(Photo Credit: Kent Smith)
The Miami HEAT outlasted the Charlotte Bobcats 104-96 in overtime Saturday night at Time Warner Cable Arena. The HEAT overcame a halftime deficit to force overtime, where they pulled away from the Bobcats.
Impact Performance of the Night: With the HEAT a little short-handed, LeBron James delivered a monster performance. He finished with 34 points, eight rebounds and six assists in the HEAT’s winning effort. James hit his first five shots from the field, showing off an array of post moves, leading to layups and turnaround jumpers. In the fourth quarter, James got the HEAT going with a pair of driving reverse dunks. James was able to turn the corner on Al Jefferson of the Bobcats and get to the rim with ease. In overtime, James scored six straight points to help the HEAT pull away from the Bobcats.
The Deciding Run: The HEAT offense struggled to score for much of the night as the Bobcats played their top-10 defense. Regulation ended with both teams stuck on 90 points. In overtime, though, the HEAT were able to score with ease, racking up 14 points in the extra frame. Chris Bosh got things started with a nice jumper, Udonis Haslem hit a pair of free throws, Ray Allen knocked down an insanely difficult jumper and LeBron James ran off six straight points before Chris Bosh’s free throws put things away. It was a return to the HEAT offense we’re accustomed to seeing, one featuring an attacking style that results in high percentage shots. In overtime the HEAT held the Bobcats to just six points, making the five-minute period a 14-6 run for the HEAT to lock things up in Charlotte.
Play of the Game: Mario Chalmers entered the night’s action with eight blocks this season, but none were as important as the one he recorded in overtime. Ramon Sessions attacked the paint and at the last second dumped off a pass to a cutting Al Jefferson. It looked like it would be a sure open layup, but Mario Chalmers came crashing down behind Jefferson, swatting the attempt. That play epitomizes the HEAT’s style of defense when things are clicking; a guard made a big man’s play in the paint to thwart a scoring opportunity. We’ve seen Dwyane Wade do that in the past, but tonight Chalmers delivered the play of the game with his block.
Efficiency Rating: Offensive Efficiency: 107.5; Defensive Efficiency: 99.9
Trend to Watch: In the first half the HEAT surrendered 60 points to an offense that has been struggling to score. It looked as though Miami was going to be stuck with another subpar defensive effort, but they bounce back in a big way in the second half. Charlotte scored just 30 points in the second half and six points in the overtime session and a lot of it was due to an increase in defensive pressure and post defense by Udonis Haslem. Al Jefferson played well in the first half, scoring 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting. But the attention his presence drew also opened things up for other Bobcats players to get to the rim. In the second half, Jefferson couldn’t get going with Haslem on him. Haslem forced Jefferson out of the paint, making his catches further from the rim, thus diminishing his effectiveness. As a unit, the HEAT defense was much more disruptive. They forced nine turnovers in the second half after forcing just four in the first half. The intensity was evident in the way HEAT defenders were attacking and trapping pick-and-rolls. It’s the middle of the season, and the HEAT have been hit by a schedule crowded with back –to-backs, so defensive lapses are to be expected. But if the HEAT turn on the jets for an extended stretch, as they did tonight, it’s usually enough to get the win.
The Takeaway: The Charlotte Bobcats have played tough defense all season, so it’s not surprising that the HEAT struggled to score. Playing without Dwyane Wade and Chris Andersen on the second night of a back-to-back made things even tougher. But the HEAT found a way to win on the strength of brilliant performances from LeBron James and Chris Bosh. They were too much for the Bobcats to handle down the stretch. Mario Chalmers also made big plays in overtime with a block and a steal, reminding everyone what he’s capable when on the floor. In the middle of a long six-game road trip on the second night of a back-to-back, the HEAT did well to get a win against a game Bobcats squad. In the second half the HEAT played really strong defensively, showing that they can get the job done with a tough, concerted effort. A solid win against a solid opponent.
Notes: Chris Bosh finished with 25 points and seven rebounds. Ray Allen scored 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Mario Chalmers added nine points, five assists and three steals. Chris Andersen and Toney Douglas were inactive.