(Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon)
The Miami HEAT beat the Los Angeles Lakers 109-102 Thursday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. The win is the HEAT's fourth straight over the Lakers, tying a franchise high. The HEAT are now 4-1 in their last five games.
Impact Performance of the Night: Chris Bosh dominated against the Lakers, scoring 31 points on 15-of-22 shooting. He hit a number of jumpers against the Lakers defense, from all around the floor. Bosh also got a few plays rolling to the rim and cutting into the paint to give him some easy baskets. At the end of the game the HEAT needed to score to put the Lakers away. Mario Chalmers drove into the lane and kicked a pass out to Bosh who was standing beyond the three-point line at the top of the key. When he caught the pass, a Lakers defender closed very hard, knowing how good of a shooter Bosh is. A simple pump fake resulted in a blow by and Bosh calmly took a dribble and a step inside the arc to get a clean, in rhythm look. He knocked the jumper down and the game was just about locked up. The play highlighted the skillset of Bosh and how much defenses now respect him from three. He’s a dangerous offensive weapon, and we saw him in peak form tonight.
The Deciding Run: There was no big, deciding run tonight for the HEAT. At least not offensively. Down the stretch, the Lakers were hitting a number of tough shots, preventing the HEAT from getting stops. LeBron James hit a three with 2:24 left to give the HEAT a seven point lead, but Kendall Marshall quickly responded with a layup to cut the lead to five. From there, the HEAT made a strong defensive run that won the game. The HEAT caused five straight missed field goals from the Lakers to seal the victory. It was a 5-2 scoring run, but what really mattered was the stops.
Play of the Game: LeBron James is a force in the open floor. We all know that. Sometimes, though, it is nice to be reminded. He took care of that for us in the third quarter. James grabbed a defensive board and took off, blowing by three Lakers defenders on his way to the hoop. He took off from the dotted circle inside the key and threw it down with authority. Fun stuff from James.
Efficiency Rating: Offensive Efficiency: 115.8; Defensive Efficiency: 106.0
Trend to Watch: The HEAT handled themselves very well on the glass against the Lakers. The HEAT grabbed 73.5 percent of available defensive rebounds, a good number for the HEAT. A big reason for the HEAT's success was Michael Beasley and LeBron James. Beasley has rebounded well all season, and in lineups where he's not featured offensively, he can make an impact by working hard on the glass. He grabbed seven rebounds in just 20 minutes against a Lakers frontline that was much taller than him. James was also excellent, grabbing 13 rebounds, his third highest total of the season. With Chris Andersen playing just 13 minutes, the HEAT had to find ways to stay competitive while sacrificing size and they did just that. The HEAT don't need to be a great defensive rebounding team to be successful, they just have to make sure to do well enough to complement the turnover they force. On the offensive boards, the HEAT dominated the Lakers. They grabbed 12 as a team, which ties for their fourth most this season. James, Andersen, Chris Bosh and Greg Oden all tallied multiple offensive boards in the winning effort, often outworking their counterparts to secure the loose ball.
The Takeaway: Tonight’s win looks similar to the one over the Celtics the other night, but it was a much better performance from the HEAT. Offensively they played well, save some turnovers, and got open looks for just about everyone. For much of the night, the HEAT moved the ball better than we’ve seen in a while. Missed free throws hurt the HEAT, but that’s nothing more than game to game variance. Had the HEAT shot their average from the charity stripe, the final score would match the actual level of play. Miami got what they wanted, when they wanted it on offense. Defensively, the HEAT played pretty well. The Lakers scored over 100 points, but they hit a number of very difficult shots in the fourth quarter to keep them in the game. The HEAT defense was forcing a lot of pull-up, contested jumpers and turnaround hook shots, which they’ll take every time. Process over results is preached in this space and tonight’s process was better than the actual results. This was probably the most complete game from the HEAT since the start of the road trip. The game was only ever in doubt because of some funky variance.
Notes: LeBron James finished with 27 points, 13 rebounds and six assists. Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers added 11 points apiece. Ray Allen scored 10 points. Dwyane Wade and Toney Douglas were inactive.