In the span of about two seconds, LeBron James displayed the quickness and speed that makes him one of the world’s most gifted athletes.
But the burst came during a timeout. And the reason for James’ explosion of athleticism had nothing to do with Friday night’s game against the Detroit Pistons.
At midcourt, a sweepstakes winner named Michael Drysch of McHenry, Ill., had just swished a half-court shot for $75,000. A 50-year-old computer technician, Drysch shot the ball awkwardly with his right hand — a half-armed hook shot— the way you would expect your company’s IT guy to shoot it.
James rushed Drysch and tackled him in a spontaneous celebration.
The half-court shot was the ultimate highlight in a night filled with them. The Heat routed the Pistons 110-88 in a game that featured 17 points from Dwyane Wade in the second quarter. The Heat (28-12) is 18-3 at home and now heads back out on the road for a four-game trip. Miami is just 10-9 away from AmericanAirlines Arena.
After the game, no one could stop talking about the half-court shot.
“Once he made it, it was just instinct,” James said. “I wasn’t even thinking. I was excited. I was excited for him, and I was excited for the moment.”
Carmex, the lip balm company, sponsored the sweepstakes and half-court shot. James said Drysch was selected from a pool of 30,000.
“He was the right random guy,” James said.
The unlikely shot went down while Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was drawing up a play during a timeout. James wasn’t watching Spoelstra’s clipboard, obviously.
“I just heard the eruption, and I turned and I saw LeBron tackle him,” Spoelstra said. “I think, while that fan will love the $75K, I think the video of LeBron tackling him will mean more in years to come.”
The half-court shot was an encore of sorts after the Heat devastated the rims in second quarter. Flashy dunks came fast and hard. In the span of about 25 seconds, James and Wade combined to offer the highlight reel two of the best alley-oops of the first half of the season.
First, James found Wade in transition for a picturesque dunk. Moments later, Wade was lobbing the ball to James, who powered it down with a high-flying alley-oop.
The dunks came amid a 20-2 run for the Heat. Miami actually trailed by a point to begin the second period but used its quickness on defense and in transition to blow the game open. Led by James and Wade, the Heat outscored the Pistons 26-8 to finish the period.
The quarter featured six dunks — three from James, two from Wade and one from Chris Bosh — nearly all of which came in transition. The Heat forced seven turnovers in the second quarter, and Wade and James combined for 26 of the Heat’s 30 points.
“It was a good professional win, and now we have to get ready for another nine-day trip,” Spoelstra said.
The Heat begins its four-game trip with its first visit to TD Garden this season. The atmosphere will be electric for Ray Allen’s first game in Boston wearing a Heat jersey. Allen had 11 points off the bench against Detroit.
Wade was 7 of 9 from the field in the second quarter. He finished the game 12-of-20 shooting for 29 points and added five rebounds and seven assists. Wade struggled early — he had several turnovers to begin the game and finished with five — but quickly adjusted.
James had 23 points, seven assists and seven rebounds. He was 9 of 14 from the field and 6 of 6 from the free-throw line. James’ streak of double-digit scoring in first quarters ended at five. He had six points in the first period.
Detroit shot over 65 percent in the first quarter and then built a seven-point lead early in the second quarter. But Wade took over with 7:45 left in the period, scoring 13 points during the huge run by the Heat. Bosh finished with 14 points and seven rebounds.
Greg Monroe led Detroit with 31 points, scoring 17 in the first half. Reserve Will Bynum was the only other Piston to score in double figures. He had 13 points. Guard Brandon Knight of Fort Lauderdale had nine points and five assists.