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The Heat clamp down on defense, demolish the Warriors

Jan 17, 2013, 1:45 AM EDT

Miami Heat LeBron James drives against Golden State Warriors David Lee during the first half of their NBA basketball game in Oakland

On a night where Stephen Curry was forced to sit out due to an injured ankle, the Heat came out aggressive on both sides of the ball and blitzed the Warriors 92-75. The score, though, doesn’t really do the domination that occurred in this game justice.

The Heat came out early and decided to set the tone that their defense was going to carry the day. By pressuring the ball up high and then rotating on the perimeter and protecting the rim, the Heat forced 7 turnovers in the first quarter.

Furthermore, by contesting every shot and generally making the Warriors feel uncomfortable on every possession, the Heat were able to turn missed shots into fast break chances and easy baskets.

As the game went on, the the Heat only tightened the screws further.

By halftime they were up by 14, using more pressure defense and shot making by Mario Chalmers (15 points, 4-7 from behind the arc) to create separation. Dwyane Wade would chip in as well, scoring 13 of his 15 points in the first half with baskets that ranged from mid-range jumpers to dunks at the rim. And while  Jarrett Jack (16 points) tried valiantly to keep the Warriors in the game, he wasn’t enough to off-set the defensive pressure the Heat were applying nor the resulting easy baskets that pressure created.

In the third quarter, things only got worse for the Curry-less Warriors. They came out of half even more listless, not scoring a basket for the first 4 minutes of the 3rd period. More misses only fueled more Heat offense and the downward spiral continued. By the end of the quarter the Warriors only scored 12 points and were down by 30 points.

The game was essentially over.

But while the game was over, this recap isn’t. And that’s because I’d be remiss without talking about the brilliance that was LeBron James. It was James that set the tone for the Miami defense. It was James that got out in the open court and score easy baskets. And it was James that dished out assists to his teammates both in the open court and in running Miami’s half court sets when the game slowed down.

All in all, LeBron scored 25 points and handed out 10 assists on the night and made it look easy in the process. Maybe it was revenge for the Warriors beating the Heat in Miami earlier this year. Or maybe he remembered rookie Draymond Green trash talking him en route to that loss. LeBron surely doesn’t like being trash talked.

Or maybe it was the fact that LeBron had milestones to reach and he wanted the night he achieved them to be in a memorable performance.

Yes, if kicking the Warriors’ butts wasn’t enough, LeBron also racked up his 20,000th point and 5,000th assist in this game. Needing 19 points and 2 dimes to do the deed, LeBron tallied those numbers in the first half and made it look easy in the process. LeBron became the youngest player to reach 20K points and the fastest non-guard to hit the 5K assist mark.

Maybe that’s why he’s the best player in the game.

In any event, the Heat, at least for one night looked to escape their recent funk and resemble the team that claimed the championship last June. Their defense was inspired and their offense produced countless easy baskets while running a pretty good Warriors team into the ground.

And while tomorrow night the Lakers wait for them in Los Angeles, tonight was only about the Heat. And, of course, LeBron James and his night of milestones.

  1. nbascreed - Jan 17, 2013 at 5:39 AM

    1. Draymond Green should never ever be matched up on Lebron. Any kind of moderate success he had during previous games is 100% due to Lebron being disinterested than Green being a defender. There is no advantage he can impose to slow down LBJ.

    2. I like Steph Curry’s improvement as much as the next guy, but when the Heat are dialed in even his presence wouldn’t make a difference.

    3. Just saw his postgame interviews, love him or hate him, but LBJ is one of the few superstars in any sport that I believe when he says “winning” or “his teammates” success matter more to him than personal glory. I love this guy!

    ktgotgame.com

    • kinggw - Jan 17, 2013 at 9:04 AM

      Even when the Heat aren’t dialed in Curry didn’t make a difference. In the Dubs win against the Heat about a month ago, Curry played but was not much of a factor.

  2. 1972wasalongtimeago - Jan 17, 2013 at 6:12 AM

    ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED!!!!!!????

  3. baymac408 - Jan 17, 2013 at 11:25 AM

    WHY WASN’T THERE A BIG STORY WHEN WE DMASHED THE HEAT?? Because the WARRIORS WORKED THEM LAST TIME AND THEY BARELY CAME BACK TO LOOSE… So if our point guard is injured its irrelevant?? Please learn the game.. Steph is our court general.. He makes everything go smooth just like his jumper!! Don’t hate we are young and coming up!!

    • kinggw - Jan 17, 2013 at 1:12 PM

      Because a two point victory isn’t smashing, its called getting by. When he had 9 points in the previous game it is irrelevant. Perhaps you should take your own advice and learn the game.

  4. rickeye9 - Jan 17, 2013 at 1:20 PM

    He’s a PG and he does so much more than just score or what you see in the stats. He really does open up the floor for everyone, Klay, who looked terrible, D Lee and even Jack, but obviously you do not watch Warrior games which is normal for nba fans, we are used to this

  5. thenmoveback - Jan 17, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    If ur “court general” was playing his backup wouldn’t have had as good a game. Yes GS is young and an up and coming team but not even close to the heat when they show up and play D. NOT EVEN CLOSE

  6. e39er - Jan 17, 2013 at 5:56 PM

    Without Bogut the dubs are simply a small ball team….but we know who the best small ball team is, the Heats, they simply play both sides of the game and when they commit on D, they are nearly unstoppable….dubs got a couple more years before they’re truly at the Heats level

  7. baymac408 - Jan 18, 2013 at 12:21 PM

    To kinggw bet I’d smash on you sucka!! And if you watch the game in general.. U would know a pg job is more then score jay cats.. If you watched the warriors you would know he makes huge difference scoring or not!! And if you watched that whole game and read what I said.. They smashed heat by more then 10 points all game.. And came bad in final 4 min.. So stfu.. I will smash u in person on court or back alley

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