HEAT 104 - Kings 83 Recap

December 11 – When it comes to the final night of a four-game road trip, on the second night of a back-to-back, it doesn’t matter as much how a team plays, only if it wins. The circumstances are such that will never happen in the playoffs, and will rarely be indicative of a team’s true abilities.

In short, on nights like these, the process matters much less than the result. But the Miami HEAT couldn’t have cared less about any of that.

Staying as true to their system as they have the past two weeks, the HEAT controlled their 104-83 win from buzzer to buzzer, answering even the briefest of Sacramento Kings runs with everything from thunderous dunks to momentum-killing offensive rebounds. It was Miami’s eighth win in a row, as well as their eighth consecutive victory by double digits.

“This was the last game of the road trip,” Dwyane Wade said. “It’s always the toughest one. You try to play mind games with yourself and whatever way you can get yourself going you have to do it.”

Whatever tricks they used, it worked. It’s a testament to how well the HEAT are playing, and how thorough they’ve been in all aspects of the game, that Saturday night’s numbers warrant little more than a shrug of the shoulders and a nod of approval. But, out of context, the numbers were once again exemplary of everything the HEAT are trying to do, and doing.

Offensively, it was all Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh, all the time. Bosh put up a season-high 17 rebounds, James a double-double 25-and-10 and Wade 36-6-6 as the three combined to shoot 56 percent from the field while scoring 72 percent of Miami’s points.

That meant 107 points per 100 possessions as a team, and another 20-plus assist night, complete with 7-of-14 shooting from downtown and 20-plus fastbreak points, with Wade providing the bulk of the highlights in the middle and James hitting confidence jumpers in the face of solid coverage.

But it will always come back to the defense.

“It’s an easy way to try and win the game offensively and that sometimes can be perceived as the fun way to do it,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Our guys are really buying into defending and expending a lot of energy on that side of the floor and of course that’s opening up a lot of opportunities for us in the open court.”

The Kings were held to 85 points per 100 possessions and 36.7 percent shooting. It may be repetitive saying that the HEAT held yet another opponent from anything resembling a cohesive offensive attack, but when a team keeps doing what every team in the league strives to do on a consistent basis, it bears mentioning.

And so does Wade’s final dunk, and putback of a Mario Chalmers miss in the fourth quarter that capped off the victory, followed by a moment of shimmying celebration from Wade. It wasn’t meant to show up his opponent or showboat in any other sense, it was merely a suitable reaction to the results of Miami’s road trip.

Results that have been nearly perfect, made even more so because the team never forgot about the process. One that may not have gone exactly as planned at first, but has the HEAT right on track.

“I was thinking by the second week of December we would be playing good basketball,” James said. “I also didn’t think in November we would be playing not so good basketball. It’s good that we are on the right track right now. We’re playing at a high level. We’re continuing to get better and we’re taking all of the challenges.”