HEAT 111 - Timberwolves 92 Recap

The Miami HEAT’s 111-92 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves can hardly be called a clean victory after surrendering 32 points in the second quarter, but it was nevertheless a more complete effort than against the Cleveland Cavaliers in a loss Tuesday, or opposite the Washington Wizards the night after.

The Cavaliers beat Miami outright, executing better offensively and playing a tougher, more energetic game on the defensive end. And when Miami began slow and stagnant in Washington, the Wizards smelled blood, their swagger carrying them until the end of the fourth quarter.

In each of those games, the HEAT were not only playing down to the level of their opponent, but their opponents were exceeding the well-established norm.

But against the Timberwolves, Miami hurt itself as Minnesota survived on unsustainable offense – Martell Webster topped 20 points for the first time this season – until the activity level rose in the second half and talent took precedence.

“We had to do it harder,” Erik Spoelstra said. “There’s no easy way. Any team that laces up its shoes and puts on an NBA uniform can make you look bad.”

The result of the collective wake-up call: a 25-1 run in the first seven minutes of the second half, complete with three dunks courtesy of Dwyane Wade. Minnesota continued to battle, but the game was effectively over following that stretch, as Miami’s horses carried the weight.

The combo of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Wade put up 83 points on 34-of-58 shooting, with Bosh working the mid-range and making plays around the rim, James overpowering those in his path and Wade working those spinning, step-back jumpers that are, quite literally, unstoppable.

Simple narrative, simple analysis, but that was this game. Other than a collective effort to keep Kevin Love from establishing his usual rebounding position in the paint (just seven boards), the HEAT didn’t have to do anything out of the ordinary to mount a back-breaking run. And though minor concern with the lack of quarter-to-quarter consistency may be warranted, that’s the way it should be in the weeks before the playoffs.

Including the ending, when the large lead afforded Dexter Pittman the opportunity to play the first two regular-season minutes of his NBA career after what had been largely a suit-wearing, knee-surgery having, D-League playing year. Pittman pulled down two rebounds, missed his only field-goal attempt and had the chair pulled on him one his second post-up, but looking like he belonged was the only skill necessary for a good outing.

Nothing special from Pittman, nothing special from the HEAT, but bland as it may sound, in a double-digit March road win, there’s nothing wrong with that.

“It was not a complete game, but we’ll take it at this point,” Spoelstra said.