After surviving a fourth quarter Houston Rockets onslaught led by James Harden, the Miami Heat would come out victorious by the score of 114-108.
Miami was led by LeBron James (as usual) who had 32 points on 11-of-18 shooting to go along with six rebounds, five assists, and two blocks. For the Rockets, Harden would lead the charge with 36 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists and two steals.
For Miami this is their third consecutive victory and their fifth straight at home and move to 32-14 on the season (including a 20-3 home record). Houston is now 27-24 and clinging to a half-game lead over Portland for eighth in the West.
So how do the Miami Heat grade out in a game that featured very little defense and was played on the proverbial see-saw?
LeBron James — A
I can’t go with the A+ because LeBron did have four turnovers (and missed three of his 10 free throws) to go along with his otherwise gaudy stats. That is just picking nits though, for as usual a routine night for LeBron James would’ve been a career-making night for just about anyone else in the NBA.
Dwyane Wade — A+
Wade deserves the A+ for his suffocating defense down the stretch. Sure, he contributed 31 points, five rebounds and eight assists, but to go along with that Wade would add four steals, two blocks, and a perfect performance from the foul line (he would go 10-of-10).
Udonis Haslem — A+
Miami loses this game if Haslem doesn’t contribute what he contributed. He came up big drawing a charge late in the fourth quarter when the Rockets were down by three, but came up bigger on the boards with 13 to go along with nine points on four-of-seven shooting.
Why can’t we see this Haslem more often? Is it really that much of a challenge for him to play alongside Chris Bosh? For some reason both players perform better without the other.
Shane Battier — A
Battier would contribute 12 points on four-of-six shooting from beyond the arc, giving Miami exactly what is expected out of him.
Mario Chalmers — C
Mario Chalmers is an enigma wrapped in a riddle. This game was a typical Chalmers game, with the only difference being the fact that for long stretches in the fourth quarter, Norris Cole was taking up some of his minutes.
Norris Cole — B
I could’ve done without Cole’s frenetic driving that leads to nowhere, but other than that he was solid in playing 25 minutes, chipping in 10 points.
Ray Allen — D-
Sometimes you just don’t have it. Twice during the game, Allen missed shots from point-blank range that looked great, but then managed to pop out. He did score five points and wasn’t a total liability on defense, but right now Allen is way too cold. Hopefully he warms up with the weather.
Rest of The Bench — B
Chris Andersen Birdman-ed up in his 12 minutes on the court and continues to show me why he will be a huge X-factor come playoff time. Rashard Lewis played better defense than anyone expected from a guy who can be known as a human turnstile at times, and Joel Anthony was himself, plus he even had a slam dunk to go along with his efforts.
Solid night for the bench when they were sorely needed.
Defense — B-
I know I look crazy when you look at James Harden’s statline as well as the fact that the Rockets scored 108 points, but hear me out on this.
Those were a difficult 108 points to score. The Heat were active throughout the game on the otherside of the court and was able to force the Rockets into 16 turnovers. Sure, Houston shot 48 percent (and 36 percent from three-point land), but it wasn’t exactly a cakewalk, especially when you consider the pace that the Rockets played at as well as the fact that they are the second-highest scoring team in the NBA.
Jason Jackson — A
I’ll admit, I was skeptical when I heard that Jax was replacing Eric Reid on commentary tonight, but he didn’t rock the boat and managed to call an excellent game while still hosting the pre-game, halftime, and post-game shows. A solid night for Jax.
My condolences to Eric Reid and his family.
Overall Grade — A-
The only gripe I have with the Heat in this game was the fact that they had plenty of chances in the fourth quarter to put them away, but James Harden got hotter than an August day in the Everglades and proceeded to attack the Heat with a flurry of threes. In their defense, those were tough threes. But in the end, Miami got the win without Chris Bosh and managed to play in one of their more entertaining games of the season.