Dwyane Wade led the Heat in scoring with 31 points, but most importantly in the fourth quarter, scoring 14 in the final period. Chris Bosh had his best game since returning from mourning, while LeBron James had an impressive stat line in all but scoring as Miami beat the visiting Orlando Magic 91-81.
Wade has hit game winning shots this season. Three times. And there’s the question – What makes you a clutch player? Your overall performance in the fourth quarter, or just the ability, confidence and that bit of luck that rubs off on you, to hit game winning shots, preferably at the Buzzer?
There’s no doubt Wade is both. LeBron James is both as well, just lacking in the final shot department at times. But he’s led furious fourth quarter comebacks single handedly this season, so I don’t get the criticism against him, besides the fact that he’s a fun guy to hate, becoming less and less so. Wade took over scoring duties this time.
There’s been another criticism of the Heat, of the way they share and take turns in leading the team. LeBron talked about that after beating Philly on Friday, saying they just go with the hot hand. I don’t think that’s necessarily bad. It’s a golden rule for plenty of head coaches. But with the Heat, the expectations are always high, sometimes impossibly high.
This was the kind of night that makes Dwight Howard think over his decision to not demand a trade and not opt out of his contract. The Miami Heat defense was suffocating, Howard had no help in the paint and there was just no flow to the Magic’s game. Jason Richardson and Jameer Nelson took too many outside shots, while Ryan Anderson and Hedo weren’t really in the game.
The Heat needed a win over a rival after the demoralizing loss against the Bulls, coming with Derrick Rose not even playing. They came down hard on Philadelphia before letting the game slip away for a while before James turning it on in the final quarter. This time, he was about defense, and sharing the ball. Shooting 4-14 from the field also had something to do with it. He finished with 14 points, 12 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 steals.
You always try to signal one player that is the barometer, but it’s hard to do that with the Heat. It might be Chris Bosh, partially. His manor of getting himself motivated by yelling profanities at himself, just like Andy Murray tends to do, worked this time, after not even appearing much of late. Bosh being aggressive and confident is a must. LeBron and Wade can combine for 70 or more on more than some nights, but it won’t be enough without the third side to the triangle.