Pardon me if this recap sounds somewhat disorganized but LeBron James was determined to make this a sleepless night for me, as well as everyone at sold-out Oracle Arena.
This game could've been a nightmare...every element was there. The second night of back-to-back games. Dwyane Wade a last-second scratch from the game. And the upcoming All-Star break a distraction for everyone on the court.
No worries. LeBron just wanted to get his mojo going before heading down to Bourbon Street.
Miami (37-14) were facing the Golden State Warriors (31-22) in Oakland. The Heat lineup was intact until the opening tip, when it was announced that Dwyane Wade - who was seen stretching on the floor before the game - would sit out the matchup due to a sore left foot. And Game 2 of the Toney Douglas Experience was set to begin.
The first quarter went well for Miami, despite an early Warriors lead. Mario Chalmers scored first, driving the lane and dunking with authority. I had to check the jersey number to make sure it wasn't Wade in disguise. Then, Shane Battier went old school with a behind-the-back dribble and layup finish. And Norris Cole hit a three-pointer to take the lead.
Then a David Lee elbow caught Battier over the left eye, forcing him to the locker room for five stiches and what will surely be a rugged-looking scar. And just as you thought you'd seen everything, Michael Beasley brushed the pine needles off his backside and played his first significant minutes in what seems like an eternity. Miami closed the period with an 8-point lead following a James bomb from the corner.
Miami was able to hold Steph Curry to two points and the Warriors to a 37% field goal rate.
The second quarter reminded fans what Beasley is capable of, as he provided 10 quick-and-B-easy points. A Curry 3-pointer, followed by another from Andre Iguodala helped cut a Miami 14-point lead down to 4. But then Ray Allen for 3, followed by a James layup and a Chris Bosh dunk gave Miami an 11-point lead at the end of the half.
Miami's third quarter started off with pure nastiness, and the lead extended to 21 points and the Heat was up 75-54 and looking to coast. And then Steph Curry. And Klay Thompson. And Harrison Barnes. And Iguodala again. And Curry again. Miami limped into the fourth quarter and then, in the blink of an eye, were suddenly down 3.
Miami once again got the lead up to 9 on a beautiful pass by Chalmers to a cutting Bosh for a dunk. But the fourth quarter reminded fans why Michael Beasley hasn't played in a while, as he was consistently victimized for easy baskets or fouls. And the Warriors shoot well, in case you hadn't seen them lately. But it was Golden State's defense that was most impressive; Thompson had two steals and a block before his basket cut Miami's lead down to 1 with just three minutes left.
The Oracle Arena crowd was buzzing, arguably the loudest arena in the NBA.
Mario Chalmers hit a cold-blooded 3-pointer to push the lead to 4.
David Lee free throws (off a Beasley foul) and an Iguodala jumper over Battier put the Warriors up 1.
58 seconds. James with a 3-pointer. Heat up two.
Curry jumper. Tie game.
James hit a free throw with 23 seconds left and the Warriors took a time out. And then Curry hit a layup and drew a (questionable) foul on Chalmers to put Golden State up by 2.
14 seconds left.
And then LeBron.
He wasn't looking to pass. He wasn't looking to tie the game. He was determined to send Miami into the break with a win.
Bang. 3-pointer from 27-feet out.
LeBron. Just LeBron.
See you on Bourbon Street, King James.