After a gabbed-to-death three-game losing streak characterized by bad defense, the Miami Heat held the Philadelphia 76ers to 86 points and 36.9 percent shooting.
Erik Spoelstra, who remarked that defense has become an issue after the team’s last loss to the Washington Wizards Wednesday night, was happy with tonight’s performance. ”We came in with a better focus and intensity. Guys were more committed defensively. It’s good to get back to winning.”
LeBron James finished with a near-triple-double (21-8-10) and kingpinned a game that featured 25 points from Chris Bosh and 24 points off the bench. The Heat were engaged, utilizing the ball movement and defense that makes this team so great. ”In order for us to contend for a title we have to defend, we know that. It was good to get back to defending the way we know we can.”
The Heat blocked a season-high 12 shots tonight, with Bosh contributing five (the most he has had since joining the Heat). ”I just wanted to be there to protect the rim every time I got the chance.”
Getting back to playing tough defense is big for the Heat. This game should serve as a lift back onto the tracks, but should also be taken with a grain of salt. The 76ers’ offense ranks third from the bottom in points per possession, according to NBA.com statistics. However those Knicks, Nets and Wizards teams ranked at or below the waist of the league too.
Miami gets four more softer offenses (Charlotte, Atlanta, Boston, L.A. Lakers) before games against San Antonio and Oklahoma City. If Miami’s defense is truly off the schnoz, that’s when we’ll be able to tell.
Quotes via Twitter @MiamiHEAT