The Miami cHeat: The cHeat led 30-22 after 12 minutes. They were up 63-45 at halftime. Their lead reached 24 points with 8:57 left in the third quarter.
Game over. Right?
Wrong. A thousand times wrong. The funny thing is, even as I was watching it, the lead felt like an aberration. In that overpowering first half, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James combined for 47 points. That's right: They outscored the Magic by themselves. And you wanna talk about smokin' hot? Those guys were 18-for-21 from the field and 11-for-11 from the line. When you've got to MVP-caliber players converting 86 percent of their field goals and 100 percent of their foul shots...that's just crazy.
It's also an outlier.
'Cause, see, it's not like D-Wade and LeBron were running a layup drill. They were shooting dead-eye from the outside. In the first quarter, Wade hit back-to-back jumpers from 21 and 15 feet. Later in the quarter, 'Bron drilled a 15-footer while being fouled by J.J. Redick (he went on to convert the three-point play from the line). A little more than a minute later, James hit again from 15 feet. With eight ticks left in the first, LeBron knocked down a 21-foot jump shot.
This trend continued in the second quarter. One minute and eight seconds in, Wade connected from 20 feet. A minute and five seconds later, he hit from 20 again while being fouled by Redick (and, like LeBron, he converted the ensuing freebie). Then, 24 seconds later (after Hedo Turkoglue missed from 21 and Ryan Anderson failed to convert a tip in), Dwyane hit a shorter (eight feet) jump shot while being fouled by Redick again (it wasn't J.J.'s day). Wade finished off the three-point play from the charity stripe.
Wade wasn't done. With 6:39 left in the half, he drilled a 16-footer. On Miami's next possession, LeBron hit a 20-footer on an assist from Wade. Then, one possession later, James nailed a 22-foot jumper. Less than a minute and a half later, LeBron connected on yet another jump shot from 15 feet out. Next cHeat possession, James hit a 17-footer. Finally, with 24 seconds left in the second quarter, D-Wade hit from 20 feet.
Okay, let's get something straight: Wade and James are incredible players. But, for all the amazing things they can do, they are not dead-eye outside shooters. Opposing teams want to force them to shoot from the outside. It sure beats giving up layups or being forced to foul them. See, that's when Dwyane and LeBron are at their most dangerous. But, despite the huge and seemingly insurmountable deficit, the Magic actually succeeded. They turned the Dynamic Duo into jump shooters. Unfortunately for Orlando, Wade and James were both red hot from the outside at the same time.
Well, Pookie and King Crab regressed to the mean in the second half, combining for 10 points on 3-for-13 from the field and 4-for-8 from the line. We're talking some serious cool down here. Four minutes into the second half, Wade bricked two freebies in a row. A few minutes later, one possession after LeBron had thrown the ball away, Dywane bricked a jumper. Speaking of LeBron throwing the ball away, here's the rather hilarious way that happened:
On Miami's next possession, Dwight Howard blocked LeBron's jump shot. However, Miami recovered the ball, and LeBron went on to hit a 22-footer. That said, James missed from 15 on the next possession.
Fast forwarding to the fourth, Wade missed from 12 feet and, three possessions later, LeBron checked back in from a short rest and missed from 25 feet. Next possession, another missed jumper for Wade. A few minute later, Wade missed a 26-foot three-point attempt. With 46 seconds left in the game, Dwyane missed from only four feet away. LeBron closed out the game by clanging a potential game-tying three-point attempt off the front iron.
So, from the point at which the cHeat took that 24-point lead to the final buzzer, Orlando outscored Miami 50-23. That included a 40-9 run.
Said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy: "Well, that defies explanation."
Added Dwyane Wade: "Mindboggling."
It was the second-largest comeback in Orlando franchise history. Their only bigger comeback came from 25 points down to the Cavaliers in 1989.
The funny thing is...this isn't even a one-time thing. When the cHeat played in Orlando last month, the Magic came back from a 23-point deficit in the final seven and a half minutes before missing a potential game-tying shot in the final seconds.
According to the AP recap, there have been only six games this season in which a team has led by at least 22 points and lost. The cHeat are responsible for two of those losses -- the other coming against the Jazz back on November 9 -- and both were in Miami.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau: "Only one other NBA team has lost a game after leading by 24-or-more points this season. That was the Detroit Pistons, who blew a 25-point lead in a 120-116 loss to the Raptors on December 11."
According to ESPN Stats and Information: "Miami continues to demonstrate a stunning inability to defeat good teams. Against the Spurs, Celtics, Mavericks, Bulls and Lakers -- the top 5 teams this season in terms of win percentage -- the Heat are a dismal 1-7. They've split 4 games with the Magic. And in games decided by 5 points or fewer, the Heat are 5-12. That yields a win percentage of .294, tying them with Philadelphia (also 5-12) for second-lowest in the league in such games, ahead of only Minnesota (4-12, .250)."
Said Chris Boshmallow (5-for-15 with four blocks against): "We've blown a lot of games where we were in full control. And we have to do something."
What's more, the cHeat are now 12-16 against teams that are currently above .500.
Said Wade: "The urgency is there. Just got to finish it. We enjoy these games. We play them hard. ... It's growing pains and it sucks. You're looking for the light at the end of the tunnel and maybe [in the playoffs] we'll look back on it and say, 'Oh, that's what it was for.'"
Added James: "We continue to get big leads and we continue to falter. Hopefully we can figure it out soon."
Anyway, games like this are what make the "LeBron for MVP" campaign kinda funny. His box score (29 points, 11-for-16, 7-for-7 from the line, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocked shots) will boost his Player Efficiency Rating and make the stat geeks drool all over themselves. Unfortunately, his advanced stats won't reflect the way he disappeared in the second half as his team was choking away a monster lead, not to mention his clunker of a wide open three that would have forced overtime.
And let's not forget that whole "5-12 in games decided by 5 points or fewer." Which brings me to this...
Evil Ted, quote machine: "How can a team with Dwyane Wade manage to not utilize Dwyane Wade in crunch time?"
That's an excellent question.
ET's answer: "LeBron James."
Chris Boshmallow: He wanted to be on TV. He wanted this. Now, not only does he get to be Ringo, his failures are being nationally televised right and left. Last week, the world got to watch his epic flop after the dreaded Carlos Boozer airbow in the middle of his even epic-er 1-for-18 shooting performance in Miami's loss to the Bulls. This week, we got to watch his testicles shrivel against another Eastern Conference power. Again: 5-for-15, four of his shots got stuffed, and he took a pass from LeBron in the face. Even The Onion is mocking him.
And now he's so very sad.
Wait. Was Bosh...crying?!
Thanks to Basketbawful reader stephanie g. for the link and pic. Vid from AnacondaHL.
Update! One more goodie from kazam92:
Reggile Miller, quote machine, Part 1: From Basketbawful reader Erik: "I like the ball and man movement."
Reggie Miller, quote machine, Part 2: From Basketbawful reader Aaron: "Eric Damiper playing HUGE for the Miami Heat."
The Utah Jazz: You can bet that, when TNT scheduled this game, they sure didn't expect Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams to both be playing in different cities. And you can also bet they probably wanted to take a mulligan on this one before tipoff. That said, it was actually an exciting game. You know why?
Unfortunately for Utah fans, the Jazz may have played a little too hard. To wit: The Nuggets attempted 25 foul shots...in the fourth quarter. By contrast, the Jazz attempted 12 freebies for the game.
Did I mention Utah was the home team?
And yet, the Jazz still had a chance to pull this one out. Devin Harris nailed a triple to cut Denver's lead to 103-101 with 1.2 seconds to play. And then...
Kenyon Martin: In what may have been the worst last-second inbounds play since Isiah Thomas helped cement Larry's Legend, K-Mart basically handed the ball to Andrei Kirilenko. Mind you, Kirilenko's fast thinking and freakishly long arms helped, but Kenyon wasn't thinking on this one. Literally.
Said Martin: "My brain stopped working."
Fortunately for the Nuggets...
Andrei Kirilenko: ...the Russian Rifle misfired. Big time. I'm talking an airball from directly underneath the basket.
But it wasn't his fault!
Said Kirilenko: "[Martin's] hand was on the ball. It wasn't a foul but I didn't really get the ball and I tried to finish without it."
The Denver Nuggets: Remember how I said the Nuggets shot 25 free throws in the fourth quarter? Well, they hit only 15 of them. Still, they held on to win, giving them five victories in six games since 'Melo went buh-bye. Which is more than we can say for:
The Utah Jazz: Utah has dropped four of the five games they've played since exiling D-Will to New Jersey. Even worse, the Jazz have fallen two games behind Memphis for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. And, yes, even worser, Utah has lost seven straight at home...their worst home fail streak since 1982.
Chris's Amazing One-Line Lacktion Ledger: Zydrunas Ilgauskas piggybacked a board in 4:08 with two bricks and two fouls for a 2:1 Voskuhl.