Miami Heat Beat Kings, Complete Winning Road Trip


After ten days on the road, the Miami Heat get to come home.

The Heat defeated the Sacramento Kings 95-83 in the last game of their five game road trip. The win moves Miami to 18-22, while the loss drops the Kings to 16-23. The win gives the Heat a 3-2 record on the trip, which has to be encouraging after the way things had looked prior to leaving Miami.

The win came without guard Dwyane Wade, who was sitting out with a sore hamstring. He’ll continue to be re-evaluated before the Heat’s next game on Tuesday against the Thunder.

Although the Kings were without Rudy Gay, the Heat’s defensive performance was inspiring, as they held them to 42.7% shooting from the field, and grabbed 32 rebounds on the defensive glass. The Heat also forced 15 turnovers – 9 steals – and had 6 blocks.

The Kings did have five players score in double figures, with DeMarcus Cousins having a double-double, going for 17 points and 11 rebounds, but struggled mightily with his shot (4 for 12 shooting) and turned the ball over 8 times. Ben McLemore had 15 points, while Ray McCallum contributed 11 points off the bench. Point guard Darren Collison had 13 points and 6 assists, and former number 2 pick (and Michael Beasley 2.0) Derrick Williams chipped in 10 points and 6 rebounds.

Things that pleased me: Chris Bosh led all scorers with 30 points (11 for 20 from the field), grabbed 7 rebounds, and hit all three of his shots from downtown. With center Hassan Whiteside in foul trouble, Bosh was forced to work against Cousins and did great against one of the best young players in the league.

With Wade out of the lineup, a chunk of the scoring burden fell to Luol Deng, who more than helped the Heat. Deng stuffed the stat sheet, finishing with 25 points (11 for 18 shooting), 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks, and 2 steals. When the ball moves, Deng is at his best, since he can get himself into spots in the half-court where he can do damage. That’s exactly the type of player that Heat were expecting when they signed him in the offseason. Miami moves to 6-0 when Deng scores more than 20 points.

Shabazz Napier got another start and didn’t disappoint, scoring 12 points, grabbing 6 rebounds, and dished out 5 assists. While his shooting was sub-par – 3 for 11 shooting – he was able to get to the basket with ease; he just had a few bad bounces at the rim. But his aggressiveness is a great thing to see, plus those shots will fall eventually. Napier is a point guard that can help create for others, a concept that has been foreign to the Heat this season. The starting job is his for the taking.

Things that annoyed me:  Not really a whole lot, although Whiteside finished with 14 minutes, as he found himself in early foul trouble and never got into the flow of the game, contributing only 4 points and 2 blocks. The Heat’s smaller lineup also was having success, as they help build a double-digit lead in the second half, so Coach Erik Spoelstra didn’t have to force Whiteside into the game. Kind of a shame, considering this was important game to Whiteside, as he was facing his former team and didn’t exactly have kind words to say (although one of the people in Kings leadership he could have been criticizing happens to be current Assistant Coach Keith Smart, his former Kings coach, so that’s awkward.)

Things that perplexed me: This was the conclusion of the Circus Road Trip that the Heat go on every January. Are circuses still a thing? Sure, the acrobatics are fun, but I get depressed thinking about the animals, nor do I trust clowns. Dick Grayson also had his childhood negatively affected by life in the circus, although I guess he would turn out OK. Much like professional wrestling, there must still be a market for the circus, so I shouldn’t complain. I’m also writing this on three hours sleep, so there’s that.

Scale of 1 to 10, how bad did I want to throw a lamp because of The Crash Brothers? 3. In a game where Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole contribute a combined 7 points on 3 for 11 shooting, they weren’t too bad, as they each has 4 assists, while Chalmers had the duos only turnover. Keeping their evil in check helps go a long way in the process of allowing Napier to run the show.

What we’ve learned: This team isn’t going to tank. They’re going to fight to the end. The Heat are still trying to come together, as they’ve already played 15 starting lineups, as they battle through injuries and some inexperience in their quest to build continuity.

Now four games under .500 and sitting two and a half games behind sixth place in the Eastern Conference, the Heat come home hoping to get back on the winning track in Miami. It won’t be an easy task, as their next game is Tuesday against the Oklahoma City Thunder.