It is starting to appear that this year’s edition of the Miami Heat may play up or down to the level of their competition. Last week the squad from South Beach defeated three of the best teams in the Association; the San Antonio Spurs, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Philadelphia 76ers with little difficulty. However the club has also lost games to the Golden State Warriors and the Milwaukee Bucks; and if were not Chris Bosh going off for 17 points in the last minutes of action, they may have lost Tuesday night to their guests the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Miami power forward was able to carry his club as he knocked down 17 of his game high 35 points in the final period and his team topped the Cavaliers 92-85.
Miami’s offense sputtered against Milwaukee on Sunday and it would happen again at American Airlines Arena on Tuesday night. Suddenly the high-powered offense that had the team averaging over 100 points per game has stalled out at times over the last two games. The Heat may finally be feeling the effects of playing without All-Star guard Dwyane Wade, who missed his fifth straight game due to injury. Miami also received 18 points from LeBron James and 10 points from rookie guard Norris Cole who played for Cleveland State last year.
Cleveland shot 50% (34-68) from the floor for the night as they were led by rookie point guard Kyrie Irving with 17 points while Samardo Samuels came off of the pine and supplied 15 points in the contest. The Cavaliers held their own against their hosts; trailing by just three points with 13 seconds left in the game. Miami would pull ahead down the stretch and Cleveland could not respond.
Both teams looked offensively challenged during the first period as the Cavaliers and the Heat had problems putting the rock through the hole. Daniel Gibson stroked a 25 foot trey with 25 seconds remaining and the Cavaliers were on top 18-15 at the end of the quarter. The scoring would get marginally better in the second, however not by much. James Jones broke a 35-35 tie with 1:14 left in the period as he knocked down a pair from the line. Anderson Varejao drove the lane putting the ball up and in with four seconds to play and the game would be knotted up at 37-37 at the half.
Cleveland would take the lead early in the third but a 24 foot trey from Shane Battier with 7:01 in the period put Miami back on top 50-49. The Heat would be up as many as six points during the quarter; however Ryan Hollins split a pair at the stripe with 30 seconds left and it would be a 61-58 affair at the conclusion of the period. Miami retained the lead throughout the final 12 minutes of play but the Cavaliers would not simply fade into the night. With 13 seconds on the clock Irving drove the lane putting the ball through the cylinder and his team trailed by just three points at 86-83. The home team would win the contest at the charity stripe as Bosh, Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem all made critical shots down the stretch and their club held on for the win.
Bosh had 35 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and a block as he carried his team to victory. James put up 18 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals while Cole scored 10 points, 3 rebounds and an assist.
Irving knocked down 17 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds while Samuels had 15 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, a block and a steal. Anderson Varejao notched a double-double with 11 points, 11 boards, an assist and a block while Ramon Sessions came off the bench with 10 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Miami improves to 12-5 and head to Auburn Hills to take on the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday while Cleveland has a 6-10 record and will host the New York Knicks on Wednesday.