It had to happen one day. Yes, Miami Heat finally halted its losing streak at five games – and at the NBA’s hottest team, LA Lakers, which had won eight straight before last night’s matchup.
It was almost inevitable, however, after Lakers coach Phil Jackson had commented that he is “not a big fan of the style that Miami plays”. He is not impressed by the Heat’s one-on-one variety of basketball, stating that he likes to watch a team with “everybody involved in the game”. He is a fan of the likes of San Antonio and Boston and is “trying to preach” the benefits of a playing as a team.
He got his wish, then, as Miami produced a nice all-round display to dispatch his two-time defending champions 94-88 at American Airlines Arena for a sixth victory over LA in the last seven meetings.
Chris Bosh finished with 24 points and nine rebounds, Dwyane Wade added five assists and five boards to his 20 points, LeBron James supplied 19 points, as well as eight rebounds and nine assists, and Mike Miller found 12 points and seven boards.
Maybe jackson will be a mite more impressed now, although that is doubtful after saying that the Heat’s approach to offense is “very much standing with Xbox games or whatever those games are. Basketball’s not a one-on-one game – it’s a team game”.
True – and one game does not make Miami a world-beater – but let’s hope Jackson gives credit where it’s due after the Heat’s six-point victory.
It’s not hard to imagine Bosh feeling particularly good after this victory, however, after Jackson – although not the first coach or commentator to make this point – suggested that the Heat rely too much on James and Wade, who have dominated Miami’s scoring to be ranked – before yesterday’s game – second and fourth respectively in the NBA charts.
The Heat do lack depth in offense, it’s true, but Wade, like the rest of his teammates, is sick of hearing it, stating that he doesn’t “care what people say about us”. Maybe a siege mentality has set in – and Miami will emerge from this slump a stronger and more creative side.
Jackson’s criticism was just the latest in a long line of digs at the Heat, including his belief that Miami coach Erik Spoelstra was almost certain to fired soon enough. The Lakers man – a winner of 11 NBA titles as a coach – did swiftly withdraw that remark, suggesting Spoelstra was “doing a good job”, and the is “going to be fine”, but it does seem that his words have returned to haunt him.
Interestingly, Kobe Bryant, although leading the way for LA with 24 points, had a closing minute-and-a-half to forget when missing his final three shots and committing two turnovers. Jackson’s belief that Miami struggles when James or Wade misfire echoes his confession that “we have a guy that dominates the ball in Kobe”.
This late-game flop will, of course, add fuel to the ‘Kobe can’t play in the clutch’ brigade’s mantra. That is way off target – much like Bryan’s last few throws, unfortunately.