Each member of the Heat’s much-ballyhooed “Big Three” scored 20 or more points for the first time this season, propelling Miami (5-2) to a 101-89 win over the Nets (2-4) Saturday night at the American Airlines Arena. The loss was New Jersey’s fourth straight and second in as many nights.
Winning time: LeBron James was sent flying into the stands behind the Nets’ basket after he collided with Terrence Williams, who was attempting to cut off James’ path to the hoop on a breakaway. After taking a few moments to emerge from the crowd, LeBron knocked down one of two free throws he was awarded as part of a clear path foul call. He then proceeded to sink consecutive 3-pointers, one on the possession after the foul and one to beat the buzzer at the end of the quarter. The Heat outscored the Nets 32-17 in the third after a tightly-contested first half.
How the game was won: The Heat’s “supporting cast” didn’t provide much support at all tonight, so it was important that James and Dwyane Wade not only played as well as they did, but also integrated Chris Bosh into the offense better than they have all season. Bosh got the better of Troy Murphy in the power forward matchup and was able to pad his scoring with 9-of-10 shooting from the free throw line. Bosh’s lack of early success this season has caused some to question his membership in Miami’s “Big Three,” but he started showing what he can be capable of when he is able to convert the looks he gets from his superstar teammates.
The Nets, led by Anthony Morrow’s best performance of the season, traded blows with the Heat for the entire first half, and even hung around for a while early in the third when the Heat started putting on a show in the second half with fast breaks and thunderous dunks. In fact, New Jersey led almost exclusively for the game’s first 19 minutes and got a bevy of open looks against Miami’s top-ranked defense. But, in the end, Wade, and then James, became just too much to keep pace with once the Nets’ offensive possessions became more laborious and disjointed, and Miami was able to open up a lead as large as 20 points late in the game. Morrow’s 10-for-17 shooting night was not enough, as the rest of the team shot under 37 percent from the field and Brook Lopez and Devin Harris combined for just 18 points. Murphy had the toughest offensive night of all, going just 3-for-11 from the field.
Player of the game: Wade’s presence was felt all over the floor tonight. His performance included smooth moves on drives to the hoop, 10 free throw attempts, slick passing and even a skying rejection of Nets center Brook Lopez. He finished with 29 points on 10-of-17 shooting, to go along with 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Other key stat lines:
- James: 9-of-16 shooting, 23 points, 9 assists, 2 steals
- Bosh: 6-of-12 shooting, 21 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks
- All Miami players not named Wade, James or Bosh: 9-of-29 field-goal shooting (31 percent)
- Morrow: 10-of-17 shooting, 4-of-7 3-point shooting, 25 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals
- Lopez: 5-of-16 shooting, 12 points
- Favors: 5-of-8 shooting, 11 points
- Williams: 7 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds
One takeaway from tonight’s game: In addition to Morrow’s sharp shooting from beyond the arc, he was able to put the ball on the floor against the Heat’s stingy defense and create shots off the dribble. Not known as a strong offensive playmaker, he seems to at least have some success with driving floaters that he can use when defenders commit too much to defending his perimeter jump shots.
Notes: For the second straight night, Kris Humphries was Avery Johnson’s choice as backup center over Johan Petro … Lopez sported a shiner under his right eye after getting hit in the face by Dwight Howard’s elbow in last night’s game against Orlando … Harris was 1-of-4 from the field and played just 22 minutes, which could be a product of the sprained shoulder he suffered earlier this week against Charlotte … The Nets will return to action on Tuesday when they play the first half of a home-and-home against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Newark.