LeBron James didn’t want to wait too long to begin his 20k point, 5k assist celebration.
The 5,000th assist came off a Dwyane Wade dunk down the lane with 6:42 left in the first, and the 20,000th point came off a mid-range jumper over David Lee with 2:45 left in the half.
Upon scoring those points,James became the youngest player in NBA history to record 20,000 points at the age of 28 years and 18 days, en route to scoring a game-high 25 points on 20 shots in under 31 minutes.
Leading the Heat to a 92-75 victory, where the final score doesn’t indicate just how dominant the Heat truly were, James also contributed ten assists and seven rebounds. He paced the Heat with 13 first quarter points and enabled his team into forcing turnover-after-turnover from a befuddled Warriors team that had no answer for the defensive pressure they were facing throughout the night.
Golden State had 21 turnovers to only 17 assists, including five turnovers alone from starting point guard Jarrett Jack who was replacing an injured Stephen Curry. The turnovers led the Heat to a 22-5 edge in fastbreak points, while also giving Miami ten more field-goal attempts. Going into their Wednesday contest, the Heat were averaging a league-worst 77 field-goal attempts per.
They had 90 against Golden State. Turns out defensive pressure and making a conscious effort to hit the boards helps in more ways than one. This win had all the makings of a typical Miami Heat contest that featured a lot of grinding in the form of grinding the opponent’s offense into a halt. The Warriors completed only 36 percent of their shots, while watching only three of their 12 three-point attempts fall.
The Heat were outrebounded, but only by a 52-51 advantage as six Heat players recorded at least five rebounds. Udonis Haslem led the Heat with ten rebounds, only his third double-digit rebounding game of the year, Dwyane Wade grabbed eight, LeBron finished with seven, Ray Allen and Joel Anthony each had five, and Chris Bosh vastly improved with six rebounds.
It doesn’t take much to improve from a single rebound, coming in the Heat’s most recent loss to Utah. Miami did outrebound the Warriors on the offensive glass, winning by a 13-11 edge. The Heat ranked last in offensive rebounds per going in, averaging only eight per on the year. Haslem and Anthony combined for seven.
Four Heat players outside of James finished with at least ten points. Mario Chalmers dropped 15 points, including the back-to-back threes at the start of the second half that put the game out of reach, and Wade contributed 15, as well, to go along with eight rebounds, six assists, a season-high five steals and a block.
Chalmers went 4-of-7 from beyond the arc.
Bosh had 11 points on 14 shots and Allen finished with ten points off the bench. Although the Heat weren’t wildly efficient shooting 40 percent from the field and 28 percent from deep, they had enough perimeter defense and LeBron James to blowout the Warriors in front of their own crowd on national television.
The Warriors kept it close behind the efforts of Jarrett Jack and his 16 points, but it wasn’t nearly enough once LeBron re-entered with 7:50 remaining in the second quarter. After the Warriors cut the lead to 28-25, James returned and immediately staged a 9-0 run to initiate the destruction of Golden State.
James and the Heat would outscore their opponent by seven in the second, but it wouldn’t compare to the thrashing they delivered in the third.
Chalmers pushed the 52-38 halftime lead to a 20-point lead following consecutive three-pointers to start the half. The Heat ended up scoring the first 13 points of the half before Jack hit the Warriors first shot of the half with 7:56 left in the third. It was already over by that point, with the Heat building up a lead as large as 34.
Wade, Bosh and James all sat the entire fourth quarter for the second time on the six-game road trip. It certainly wasn’t the same as their first meeting with Golden State. The Warriors staged a comeback in the final minute that was capped off by a Draymond Green game-winning layup with a second remaining, leading Golden State to a two-point victory.
Green was remembered for doing some trash-talking with LeBron that game. There wasn’t much of that here with Green recording four fouls and four turnovers in 29 minutes off the bench. Klay Thompson, who finished with 27 points in the first meeting, had two points on 1-of-8 shooting to accompany four turnovers in the second.
The win pushes the Heat’s road trip record to 2-3. They have the chance to come out of it with a .500 mark with a win over the injury-depleted Los Angeles Lakers Thursday night.