Miami again made things hard for themselves in the fourth quarter but Wade and LeBron steered the ship home, including a inbound hook up with 4.6 seconds to go, giving Miami the best start to a season in franchise history and leaving a deserving Minnesota with nothing.
LeBron James was all dominating, finishing with 34 points, 10 assists and 8 rebounds in a vintage performance. He was on the end of several Top 10 making alley oops and break away slams and also made some key defensive stops, which in the end was the difference for the Heat.
Wade struggled throughout with a bruised bone in his foot but came up big in the fourth quarter for the second consecutive game, finishing with 19 points. Chris Bosh continued his new found aggression with a well earned 20 points on top of 9 boards.
Norris Cole, Miami’s newest cult hero, put on an incredible display, particularly in the second quarter, finishing with 12 points and 5 assists. Cole has very quickly put a lot of pressure on Mario Chalmers to produce or risk losing his starting role.
Shane Battier has failed to make the offensive contributions that the Heat were hoping would come with the signing of the veteran but he drew four charges during the game and continues to be a constant on the defensive end. His off the ball work on both ends of the court is elite, just lacking his usual touch from behind the three point line.
Minnesota probably deserved more than they got as they offered a spirited performance, particularly in the second half, on the back of some fantastic play from their two rookies. Ricky Rubio, the Spanish prodigy, finished with 21 points and 12 assists, and at one point had the crowd chanting M-V-P when he was at the free throw line. Whilst I still think Rubio is a long way off the finished product and had a number of blemishes, mostly consisting of inaccurate passes, he certainly is more impressive than I and many others believed he would be. Derrick Williams, the second overall pick in this year’s draft, started slowly but found his feet and had a highly productive fourth quarter on both ends of the court, finishing with 10 points and 4 rebounds.
I think it’s fair to say Minnesota are fairly stacked at the smaller positions from 1-3 and their recent draft strategies have left the team in the best position it could have hoped for following the loss of their iconic forward Kevin Garnett.
Nonetheless what appeared to be a rather one sided affair before tip off proved to be a very exciting and intriguing game. Certainly helps us out who have to watch 66 of them before it gets overly interesting.