After a Pistons miss opened the contest, Udonis Haslem scored the first points of the game on a 18-foot jumper from the top of the key. A rare start for UD, he would make the most of his opportunity. He scored again the next time down the floor with a 20-footer from the right side of the baseline. He would complete the trifecta on his third shot, this time from the left side at 19-feet. It was tied at six after three minutes, and all of Miami's points were courtesy of UD. LeBron James scored his first soon thereafter with a very long two-pointer and the Pistons answered with a three.
Chris Bosh made the first free throw of the night after a three-second violation. After retaining possession, Toney Douglas drew a foul while driving for the hoop, converting both of his free throws and knotting the game at 11. Goaltending was called on the Pistons the next time down, giving Haslem his seventh and eighth point of the game. James Jones drained a three pointer from the right-side to put Miami up by a 16-13 score halfway through the frame.
Udonis made it a perfect five-for-five from the floor with a 15-footer from the left side of the lane on his next opportunity, and hit his next shot as well. He helped on the defensive end as well, drawing a charge from Greg Monroe with three minutes left and the Heat up by one. Norris Cole, who missed his first shot, sank a three-pointer from the left-baseline to give Miami a 23-19 lead. Rashard Lewis got in on the act with a 14-foot turnaround fadeaway from the right side, and followed that with a three-pointer from the right wing to give Miami a then-game high seven point lead. The quarter closed with Miami winning by a score of 28-23.
First Quarter Observations
- This is the best UD has looked in about two years.
- James Jones deserves more playing time on a regular basis. He's clearly an upgrade over incumbent Shane Battier.
- Miami had 11 assists on their first 11 field goals. Their 100% assist rate is tied for the NBA record in any quarter of play.
The first field goal of the quarter was an air balled three point attempt by Toney Douglas. Miami got back on the board with a pair of free throws by Cole. Lewis scored on a layup, then Cole missed a jumpshot. The Pistons closed Miami's lead to one on four consecutive occasions, but they never got that close again as Chris Andersen made six straight points on two layups and one slam dunk. Two of those were assisted by Cole, and the other was off a Cole miss.
Bosh scored his first field goal of the game with five minutes left in the half, a slam dunk for a six-point lead. Shane Battier followed that with a layup. The Pistons got within four points, but didn't score again after trailing Miami 46-42 with three minutes left. The BIrdman was mugged running the floor, making both free throw attempts. Bosh hit a three-pointer, then James made two layups to close the half with Miami winning by a 57-42 score.
Second Quarter Observations
- Remember the Bad Boys of Detroit? Everyone remembers Bill Laimbeer, Isiah Thomas, Rick Mahorn, Dennis Rodman, John Salley, and Joe Dumars, but I remember "The Microwave," Vinny Johnson. That was a LOOOOOONG time ago.
- Considering the "extended" rotation that Miami used tonight, is it a bit telling that Michael Beasley didn't see the floor until the game was all but decided?
- Miami had only two turnovers in the half, both of them occurring in one ragged exchange where both teams missed multiple shots and turned the ball over twice.
Douglas opened the second half scoring with a tip-in off a UD miss to extend Miami's lead out to 17. Detroit finally scored, but it took a trip to the free throw line to do it. Jones buried his second three point of the night from just right of straight-ahead on LBJ's ninth assist of the evening. Bosh nailed another three to make it 65-45 with nine minutes left in the third quarter. Bron made a pull-up three, and was only one helper and two boards shy of another triple-double just a minute later.
Haslem made another field goal - a 16-footer from the left side to give Miami a 21-point lead, then Jones made another deep shot to make it 24. After a James three-point play a few minutes later, the lead stood at 28, and was still growing. Bosh hit a 17-footer from the right-wing. He made the difference 31 points with a ferocious dunk on an unsuccessful Toney three-point attempt. UD completed a James alley-oop pass with a dunk for an 87-54 lead with three minutes left in the third.
James and Cole ran the give-and-go with a minute left, and I saw James pick two guys at once as Cole netted an easy layup. James played out the string and finished the quarter with 17 points, a dozen assists and 10 rebounds. He would not return in the fourth quarter. The Heat led, 92-60.
Third Quarter Observations
- How many time have we seen James fall one assist or one rebound short of a triple-double? It was nice to see him with the finisher.
- Earlier this season, I said that Cole is frequently the fastest player on the floor. That's still true, but is not necessarily always a good thing.
The two teams played out garbage time and each put up 18 points in mostly uninspired play. The final score was 110-78, but I swear it wasn't that close.
Fourth Quarter Observation
You know in baseball when the home team is winning and they don't have to play the bottom of the ninth? If Miami came out in the fourth quarter and weren't permitted to score, they would still have won by 14. Still, I'm not advocating a mercy rule.
That's it for tonight. Make sure to check back tomorrow for Miami's matchup in Milwaukee with the NBA's last place team, the Bucks.