It was a rough road trip for the Miami Heat, losing three games in a row. There’s nothing like going back home to regroup, recharge and simply look much better and getting on the winning path again, with the big three of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade paving the way to victory.
The Washington Wizards made a game of it through the first three quarters, when it seemed like it was only James and bits and pieces of the rest. But Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh both gave their best in the final quarter, which was slightly surprising to see from Wade who isn’t used to playing back to back games this season. The Heat endured another awful nights on the glass to win 99-90, putthing themselves only two wins away from matching the Pacers with the best record in the East.
LeBron James led the way with 23 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 steals. He seemed energized and focused right from the start. This wasn’t about proving a point that he can score after three subpar games, but simply about getting the confidence back up and marking a check and W next to the Wizards’ visit after three games in which the Heat’s defense and resolve as champions was exposed.
Chris Bosh had 22 points on 10-of-14 from the field , adding 7 rebounds and being the catalyst in the fourth quarter as the Heat got away with a personal 5-0 run from Bosh. Wade had his best fourth quarter of the season with 13 points out of his 22 in the game, overcoming a rough shooting night earlier on.
The thing the Heat should be most pleased about besides their scoring spurts scattered across the game (including James scoring 19 points in the first half despite going almost 15 minutes with a point in that timeframe) is their defense. They made it very hard for the Wizards to get open looks, limiting them to only 40.4% from the field, and making John Wall look rather oridnary at 2-of-8 from the field and scoring 7 points.
Miami struggled under the basket. They allowed 21 offensive rebounds, with Marcin Gortat pulling off 18 total and nine on offense. However, rebounding isn’t what costs Miami games. It’s when their defense doesn’t move quickly enough off double teams to chase down open shooters or doesn’t trap point guards quickly enough to stop a play from developing that they have trouble. The Wizards might have dominated the boards, but didn’t play the way you should win against the Heat.
The Heat aren’t used to these long losing streaks, but it happens. Going for that third championship is something so immensely difficult it’s better to get these losses out of the way earlier on. As long as it doesn’t cost them the top spot in the East (which seems more in-reach than ever thanks to the Pacers’ sliding), these 3-losses won’t be muc more than a fading object in the rearview mirror.
And expect the monster LeBron James to come sometime very soon. He has followed his 61-points performance against the Bobcats with a 20-point average in the next four games. It was important to get back on the winning track, but at some point the personal numbers are going to be something he also works on against some poor rival.