For the first time in 7 weeks, the Miami Heat know what a 2 game winning streak feels like. Before the challenge of taking on Golden State without Dwyane Wade, lets focus on this game first.
The Heat started the game as if they were a championship contender facing the 76ers. The 18-0 run was the 2nd largest opening run in the NBA this season and something Miami hasn't done since the 2002-2003 season. The Lakers only scored their very first point at the 4:22 mark of the first quarter. By half time Miami bullied LA inside with 38/44 points coming inside. The bench also did their part with 17 points. Miami has been 16-2 when leading after the 3rd quarter but the 3rd has been difficult for Miami all year. After 3 Miami still led. The 4th quarter was ugly, with only the best moments coming in crunch time. With Dwyane Wade being out, Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers hit key shots but it was only after a final Kobe heave the game was finally in the books in favor for Miami. The Heat shot 42% while the Lakers were at 32%. Out of 78 total points of offense, 58 came from inside. Time to look at some players
[Mario Chalmers - 19 points, 8 assists] - Mario proved once again he can come up big when Dwyane Wade is out and his next challenge against the Warriors back court will be his hardest yet. 9 of his 19 came in the 4th quarter and 4 of those 9 came in the last few possessions. Rio, Norris Cole, Shabbaz Napier and even Tyler Johnson now all have to step to make up the significant loss of Wade for at least the next few games.
[Chris Bosh - 8 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists] - Not going to rip Chris for having a bad game because I'm hoping this was just one. With Wade being out, the offense will once again flow through Chris as a focal point and even though he found other ways to contribute when his shot wasn't falling, Bosh needs to come up with elite level performances for the rest of this road trip.
[Hassan Whiteside, Chris Andersen 27 points, 17 rebounds, 8 blocks] - Once upon a time size was this teams most glaring weakness, and due to the emergence of Whiteside and Bird's transition into the starting lineup, size has become the strength for Miami. Whiteside continues to be active around the basket with hands opposite of Joel Anthony but how effective will he be now that he has no lobs to catch from Wade?
Coach Spoelstra called this game an ugly win where the team brought intensity on the defensive end regardless of the offensive struggle at the time. That same intensity has to be doubled for tonight because the Splash Brothers will make you pay if you don't play.
Heat at Warriors tonight at 10:30pm!