Dwyane Wade knew there has been a lot of talk about him this season, and last season, revolving around his age and his supposedly declining play.
Wade’s play has been erratic all year, so when LeBron James and Chris Bosh struggled out the gate against the Brooklyn Nets, Dwyane decided that it would be his turn to lead the Miami Heat to an 8-0 home record.
With Bosh struggling and James having trouble out the gate, Wade put in his best game of the young season with 34 points on 20 shots and seven assists in 34 minutes leading the Heat to a 102-89 victory over the Eastern Conference’s second best team.
The sixth consecutive win moves the Heat to 12-3 on the year.
LeBron failed to score a field-goal in the first quarter, but recovered to finish with a near triple-double to the tune of 21 points, nine rebounds, six assists, and one steal in 37 minutes. LeBron may have been able to get it going, but Chris Bosh failed to do much on either side of the ball, scoring only eight points and recording more turnovers (3) than rebounds (2). His matchup in Andray Blatche, Brook Lopez’ replacement for the night, scored 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
The most Bosh could boast were his three blocks, including a stuff on Kris Humphries’ dunk attempt.
The Heat’s 13-point victory indicates the team won this with ease, but it just wasn’t the case. Miami struggled out the gate and fell behind 15-4 six minutes into the game. Deron Williams’ facilitating was wreaking havoc on the Heat, as the All-Star point guard kept chalking up assists with dribble penetration. He ended up with five assists by the end of the first, giving the Nets a 24-16 lead after one.
Miami was without Shane Battier for a second consecutive game.
Wiliams and the Nets would stretch the lead to as large as 14 after a pair of C.J. Watson free throws with 9:22 left. Miami would end up cutting the Nets lead to nine by the half. Surprisingly, it was the insertion of Norris Cole into the lineup when the Heat were able to put some sort of cork on Williams and his penetration. Mario Chalmers ended up playing only 18 minutes, while Cole would receive nearly 30 minutes worth of playing time.
Considering the Heat’s slow starts and stretches of lethargy, Cole’s energy has been the perfect complement on a team that doesn’t always deliver in terms of effort and energy. Cole ended up finishing with 12 points on 10 shots to go along with three steals and two rebounds. Most importantly, he did an excellent job at bottling up Williams, who had seven assists combined in the final three quarters.
Chalmers had three turnovers in his 18 minutes. Cole had a grand total of zero in 30.
The Heat appeared ready to yield 100 points or more for a fourth consecutive game after giving up 59 to the Nets in the first half, but put the clamps on and managed to allow a mere 30 points in the entire second half.
In the fourth quarter, Watson hit a three-pointer with 10:44 left. The Nets wouldn’t hit another field-goal until Joe Johnson banked in a shot with 2:54 left. Although the Heat didn’t shoot much better, they certainly didn’t need to do much to build a comfortable margin over a team that didn’t have a field-goal for nearly eight fourth quarter minutes. By the time the Nets had their second field-goal of the quarter, the Heat turned a three-point lead into a nine-point advantage upon Johnson’s bank shot.
Appropriately, Ray Allen–13 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 2-of-3 shooting from deep–would deliver a three-point dagger with 2:13 left.
The story of the night, however, is just how spry Dwyane Wade looked all night. He had 16 points at the end of the first half and saw a large majority of those shots come near the rim. Whether it was Johnson, Keith Bogans or Jerry Stackhouse guarding him, Wade made it look easy all night as he got to the rim with the same reckless abandon the Wade from 2009 would. He would cap off the night with a huge alley-oop slam over Kris Humphries.
The Heat now shove off for one of their rare road games of the month, with a meeting against the 1-13 Washington Wizards awaiting.