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Heat out-star Thunder as Eddie House does a dance

Jan 30, 2011, 5:09 PM EDT

Miami Heat v Oklahoma City Thunder Getty Images

In a game that was pretty fantastic from start to finish, the Miami Heat closed out the Thunder with a combination of star power and savvy play. Dwyane Wade was brilliant with 30 points and 9 rebounds (but also 9 turnovers), and LeBron James made the play that encapsulates his career. With the clock winding down, James passed up a fairly good look to dish to Eddie House, a 39.2% 3-point shooter. Bang. Game. Set. Match. And look, he did a dance, too.

The decision to pass on the game winning shot is the kind of thing that would get James criticized had House missed the shot. But the play was right. Pass up a good look for a better one, trust your teammates, and win the game. James finished with 23 points and 13 assists, (4 turnovers, 4 steals, 3 blocks), the kind of all-around game that showcases his strengths, but didn’t take the dagger. And that’s pretty much his career.

For the Thunder, you have to look at their sloppy performance down the stretch. Their success was built into a catch-and-shoot three for Durant, which is rare. Too often they turn to ISO-sets for Durant, which rarely work out well, as was the case on their final halfcourt possession, a missed baseline contested jumper for Durant. The Thunder gave great effort and used their transition game to press the Heat, but in situations where they needed to deliver, they couldn’t execute. Even their final possession, Russell Westbrook trying to delay the clock start on the inbound by letting it roll with the Thunder out of timeouts, resulted in a turnover.

The Thunder’s problems were pretty evident, illustrated by the strength of the Heat, which is perimeter penetration. There was no one to rotate inside and the Thunder defenders were too often too late. The result was a cavalcade of free throws, as James, Wade, and Bosh combined for 27 free throw attempts.

The Thunder have a formula now for how their final possessions should look, with Kevin Durant using off-ball movement to create clean looks, not trying to simply shoot over a defender. The Heat now have their formula. A strong performance from Chris Bosh outside, wing scoring on slash-and-drive from Wade, and LeBron facilitating.

Strong, strong game and good things to take away for both teams.

  1. progress2011 - Jan 31, 2011 at 2:24 AM

    Is it a mystery who the Heat coach is talking too, when he constantly states ” TRUST YOUR TEAMMATES ” !!!
    2 of the Big 3, on the Heat, pass the ball. One appears out of control most of the time, trying to convince others the team is still his team. The mystery man ( drum roll ) is D-Wade ( a.k.a. the super-model ).

    D-Wade single-handedly almost blew the game ! Wade is the ball hawking, 1 against 4 Kobe of the Heat.
    Similarly, Kobe continues to jack up ill-advised shots, to pad his personal numbers and show the world, it is his team. Wade is displaying the same type of drama queen play.

    House should start in front of Arroyo and Chalmers. None of the 3 are true point guards but House is a better ” proven ” shooter than both Arroyo and Chalmers put together.

    Lastly, the Heat ” better ” make some trades to get longer ” talent ” in the paint. The current team cannot compete with Boston….PERIOD !
    Shaq, Perkins, Garnett, Big-Baby will abuse the Heat’s front line of Z, Bosh, Anthony and Haslem ( if he comes back from injury ).

    • hnirobert3 - Jan 31, 2011 at 7:54 AM

      I wouldn’t call Wade a supermodel because I’ve seen him take some serious hits driving into the lane while willing the Heat to victories (not so much this year, but pre Decision), but his complaining after not getting a foul call is getting very old. You could feel the momentum change when he did that in the 4th.

  2. rickmirer - Jan 31, 2011 at 6:53 AM

    This game made realize how awesome Chris Bosh is. Good win.

  3. btanner17 - Jan 31, 2011 at 8:21 AM

    whoa i wouldnt blame d-wade that much, after all lebron gets a lot of turnovers and theres been a few times where lebron has seemed to take d-wade out of the game at bad times (ny), but i think you’re right..bosh knows his role, lebron knows his role, d-wade? sometimes. I’m sorry, haters look at lebron and say he’s trying to take the team from d-wade or he’s playing selfish.. no, he’s not. 1) he passes the ball more than any forward ever. 2) like it or not, lebron is the man on that team, and it’s just that you’re not used to seeing the league’s 2nd best player relegated to 2nd option.

    and, the heat arent making any trades, maybe signing an old dude that gets cut. they’ll be fine. remember, they have serious mismatches in their favor at 3 positions. J Howard and Dampier can do enough to make sure Boston’s bigs can’t do whatever they want. there’s no team that 2 of the leagues best and one of the best PF’s can’t beat. And they have great shooters.

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