GET THOSE MVP ROPES OUTTA’ HERE.
Fighting exhaustion coming off a back-to-back where he scored 37 the previous night in a close win over the Phoenix Suns, LeBron James was in a position he’s become familiar with over the course of his 11-year career: With the ball in his hands and the opportunity for the last shot.
With All-Star weekend right around the corner and LeBron already having played 42 minutes, the Heat weren’t about to go into overtime with a high-energy Golden State Warriors team that couldn’t miss a deep jumper. No, with a week’s vacation on the way, it was either go into the break with a tough loss or an incredible victory ripped from the jaws of defeat.
LeBron chose the latter. He stepped back, rose up over Andre Iguodala from 28 feet away, and knocked in a game-winning three-pointer with .2 seconds left to give the Heat a 111-110 victory.
Appropriately, he did the customary Nick Van Exel dance, but not to the dismay of Warrior fans, who were more appreciative of the feat they just witnessed, rather than the demoralizing loss they were just handed.
The three-pointer was an answer to and-one layup Stephen Curry hit only a few seconds before to put Golden State up ten. LeBron had split a pair of free throws on the possession before after a three-pointer on the previous possession to put Miami up two with 58 seconds left.
It was at that point where he and Curry began to exchange difficult shots. Stephen matched LeBron’s first three-pointer of the final minute with a one-handed push-shot from 15 feet away.
Curry finished with 29 points and hit all four of his three-pointers, while his team shot 56 percent on threes overall, but it was all for naught once LeBron got the ball in his hands.
Perhaps that was the silver lining to the sudden absence of Dwyane Wade, who was scheduled to play, but suffered a foot injury that forced him to the bench. Toney Douglas started in his place for a second straight game.
The Heat were forced to overcome another spectacular display of shooting from their opponent. The Warriors shooting 9-16 from three, a combined 8-11 from Curry, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes, marks the third consecutive game where a Heat opponent has shot 40 percent from beyond the arc.
Miami outscored Golden State 56-40 in the paint.
When it came down to it, however, the Heat relied on the shots Golden State had been hitting all night. Their final three makes were two threes by LeBron and another three by Mario Chalmers right in front of the Warriors bench in a one-point game.
The win sends the Heat 37-14 going into the All-Star break. They went into last year’s break with a 36-14 record.
LeBron James: 36 points, 14-26 overall, 4-8 from three, 13 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 steals; A
The fact that he came an assist short of a triple-double–again–is probably gnawing at the back of his head, but he can repress that after hitting the second game-winner of his career at the Oracle. He was equally aggressive driving to the rim as he was shooting from deep, not allowing any jump shooting slump to hinder him from taking the shots he’s found so much success from over the past two years. The game-winner shoots him back into the MVP race and appears poised to make a significant run once the second half of the season starts.
Chris Bosh: 19 points, 8-14 overall, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks; B-
Even without Andrew Bogut playing for the Warriors, Bosh was hardly able to make his presence felt on the boards. The Heat were outrebounded 43-35, including 11-4 on the offensive glass. However, Bosh was prolific working off the pick-and-roll and hit a key jumper during a fourth quarter run that gave Miami a nine-point lead midway through.
Michael Beasley: 16 points, 7-11 overall, 2 rebounds, 2 steals; A
So, this is who the Heat have wallowing on the bench while the team searches for players to come off the bench that can score? Beasley was extremely aggressive throughout and showcased how lucky he is to be ambidextrous, hitting layups and floaters with his left and right hands, and supporting the team in the rare times LeBron was off the floor. He was a team-high plus-10, which was easily observable.