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Bobcats 90 - HEAT 129 Recap

Jan 2 2012 3:06PM

At one point, the Miami HEAT led by 46 points.

Of anything that can be said about Miami’s 129-90 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats – less than a week after needing a game-winning shot from Dwyane Wade to beat the same team – nothing sums up the night better than that number.

“It was just one of those games where nothing went right,” Bobcats coach Paul Silas said.

There were a few other nice things that happened for Miami Sunday evening. LeBron James only had four points at halftime, but the HEAT still held a 28-point lead thanks to 20 from Chris Bosh and a combined 21 points from the point guard combo of Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole. That point combination also finished with 32 points between them. And once the big lead was gained, there was very little slippage defensively in the second half.

“We came into the game tonight trying to play with a heightened sense of athleticism and urgency, and we wanted to try and sustain it for 48 minutes,” Erik Spoelstra said.

But its best not to look too far into what was an incredibly one sided evening. A big lead was gained after Chalmers hit three triples and Bosh scored nine in the first quarter, and the big lead was held. Sometimes, that’s all that matters.

That doesn’t mean there weren’t some interesting wrinkles over the course of the evening. Nothing new, but things we’ve seen long enough for a trend.

The first is Norris Cole’s ability to take a quick outlet pass – even a pass off a made basket – and blaze his way past the entire defense, full court, for a layup. It happened twice against Charlotte, and its possessions such as those that add a completely new dimension to Miami’s secondary units, one that played without Bosh, James or Dwyane Wade at the end of the first quarter after James got into foul trouble.

Now – and having a floor spacer like Udonis Haslem helps immensely as well – the HEAT doesn’t have any rotation units that play to simply not give up points. Even if the half-court execution is leaving something to be desired, a quick-hitter or two from Cole can extend a lead and stop a team from gathering any momentum-based confidence.

You can also call the second trend a quick-hitter, a type of possession that last season was a highlight, even a novelty, but rarely a consistent weapon.

Miami was always able to score off turnovers with its assortment of athletes, but now the full-court connections can happen off just about any sort of play. In the third quarter, Wade was the first to hit James with a long lead pass, this time after a jump ball.

One possession later, after a Charlotte miss fell into James’ hand near the rim, he did the same for Wade. Four points in barely four seconds of possession time.

And like this game, it’s the sort of play that’s very difficult to breakdown. Whereas off-ball cuts offer defensive alignments to analyze, these possessions are possibly the purest forms of reads out there.

“It’s the look and sometimes you have to see the defender and see how many steps he has as well,” Wade said. “Obviously it’s only a split second you have to make that decision. But that guy is pretty fast and I can lead him a little bit. Sometimes I lead him a little too much, but I got lucky on that one.

“He gave me the look, so I trust that he’ll catch it when I throw it and it was a good play. There was a little precision on that pass. He didn’t have to break stride at all. Went back to my backup quarterback days on that one, like in eighth grade.”

Did they ever not trust each other last season? Probably not. Someone has to make those track-meet cuts for there to be any sort of trust play to make. Miami is just making those plays more available, because now those off-ball movements – like James making sure to spread the floor before filling the lane on a secondary break when he doesn’t even get a touch – are natural. And it makes wins like this, wins you’ll hardly remember a few months from now, a little easier to come by.