Chris Bosh was the best player on the court on Tuesday in LeBron James’ first game this season against his old team.
Bosh carried the Heat through a difficult first half and then finished off the game with a flurry of jumpers and free throws in the fourth quarter. The Heat defeated the Cavaliers 92-85, and Bosh had 35 points, giving him four 30-point games this season, or one more than he had all of last season.
Bosh’s 35 points tied his high with the Heat, which he set last season against the Phoenix Suns. He had 17 points in the fourth quarter, going 5 of 7 from the field and 6 of 6 from the free-throw line. He finished 10 of 16 from the field, including 1 of 1 from three-point range. He was 14 of 14 from the free-throw line.
Bosh has scored at least 30 points in three of the past five games, all of which have come with Dwyane Wade on the bench with an ankle injury. It’s not a coincidence, says Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.
“He’s a very cerebral player, so he knows what we need when we need it,” Spoelstra said. “We need some scoring when Dwyane is out, and he’s able to do it in the context of our normal offense. It was important for us.”
The Heat is 7-1 without Wade, who is traveling to Detroit for Wednesday’s game but remains day-to-day.
Miami (12-5) led by three points at the end of the third quarter and outscored the Cavs 31-27 in the final period. Bosh scored 11 of the Heat’s 15 points during a critical stretch in the game’s final five minutes. His three-pointer with 4:26 left gave the Heat an eight-point lead. Bosh is 6 of 20 from three-point range this season.
“People say don’t fall in love with it, but it loves me and I love it back,” Bosh said of his jump shot, which was so accurate Tuesday that he never seemed to even touch the rim — just one swished basket after another.
As for the three-pointers, Bosh said he is comfortable shooting from the outside if James continues to play inside the paint. But both players agree it’s a delicate balance. On Tuesday, Bosh attacked the basket plenty to keep the Cavs’ defense honest.
Bosh’s three-point play with 2:37 remaining put the Heat ahead 80-74. He went strong to the basket against Alonzo Gee, made the basket and drew the foul before falling to the court. He pointed to the basket and screamed “And one!” as he slid into the baseline gaggle of photographers.
A driving layup by Cavs rookie point guard Kyrie Irving cut the Heat’s lead to 88-85 with nine seconds to play, but clutch free throws by Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem sealed the win for the Heat.
“It wasn’t all together a smoothly played game but at the end, regardless how you get there, we were able to get a handful of stops and execute,” Spoelstra said.
James had 18 points in his fifth game against the Cavaliers (6-10) since leaving Cleveland for Miami. The Heat is 4-1 against the Cavaliers since then. James was 8 of 21 from the field, turning in one of his worst shooting performances of the season. He was 1 of 5 shooting and 0 of 1 from the free-throw line in the fourth.
James admitted that playing the Cavs always adds an emotional subplot but added, “I’m here to win. I don’t really care how I play.”
Heat rookie Norris Cole, who was a collegiate star at Cleveland State, had 10 points off the bench. An important jumper by Cole put the Heat ahead 67-61 with 9:10 left in the game. Chalmers finished with nine points and had three assists to go along with three turnovers.
“I just wanted to play better — play like I can play and how they know I can play,” said Cole, who had struggled offensively in recent games.
The Heat pulled ahead with 12-2 run in the third quarter. A three-pointer by Shane Battier followed by a dunk from James and then a three-pointer from James highlighted the offensive spurt.
The first half, which ended tied at 37, felt like an extension of Sunday’s game against the Bucks. On Sunday, the Heat had 22 turnovers. Against the Cavaliers, the Heat committed 10 turnovers in the game’s first two periods. Miami finished with 17 turnovers and the Cavs had 20
Irving led the Cavs with 17 points. Reserve center Samardo Samuels had 15 points off the bench, most of which came on dunks against the Heat’s inside defense.
Source: Miami Herald