Benchmarks for a poorly defended game against the Heat:
• Ray Allen dunked twice.
• Chris Bosh nearly matched his minutes with points.
• A flirtation with the century mark in points before the fourth quarter.
• Five players with at least five assists.
• A shooting percentage that nearly set a franchise record.
• Seventy points in the paint. Yes, 70.
All of these things happened on Friday in the Heat’s 122-103 victory against the Sacramento Kings, which offered the defending back-to-back champions one of the most loosely defended efforts they have faced since, well, since it blew out the Utah Jazz two games prior.
Most teams in the NBA play the Heat (20-6) with the respect the best team in the league deserves. Clearly, Utah and Sacramento are in different places than that this season.
Sandwiched this week between the best team in the East were two games for the Heat against the two worst teams in the Western Conference. The Heat set a franchise record for shooting percentage (63.4) against the Jazz on Monday and, after testing itself defensively against the Pacers, Miami shot 61.4 percent against the Kings.
At point in the third quarter, before the starters were pulled, the Heat was shooting close to 65 percent.
“Just taking care of business,” said Dwyane Wade, who had 20 points. “[The Kings] have so much talent, they’ve got so many guys drafted in the top 10, very good players. We knew eventually that we’d have to keep wearing the game, keep wearing on them and, eventually, hopefully, pull away.”
Consider this: Sacramento shot 58.1 percent and lost by 19 points. The Heat led 98-82 after the third quarter.
“From a coaches standpoint, it left a lot to be desired defensively, but certainly for the fans and certainly for the guys, they enjoyed it,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I don’t have that many problems or complaints offensively. It was great pace and great energy.”
Great pace was Allen, who is 38 years old, driving the length of the court for running dunk. It was the first multiple-dunk game for Allen since Feb. 10, 2011.
Great energy is LeBron James leaping to the rafters with a defender in his way and giving the sports world its fix of freakish athleticism for the night.
James’ dunk on rookie Ben McLemore might go down as one of the most photogenic of his career.
“Ninety percent of the players are able to step up and be in position to take that charge,” Spoelstra said. “There is that top percentile that can go over the top of that. LeBron is that top percentile.”
Heat reserve James Jones joked after the game with Norris Cole that McLemore was stuck “between a rock and a hard place” once he committed to take the charge.
On Allen’s dunks, Wade joked after the game that the lane “only opens that wide” for the Heat’s reserve shooting guard.
“They were both surprising,” Spoelstra said of Allen’s high-wire acts. “The lane parted and opened up and he can still dunk. He dunks in practice when he has opening, but it was good to see because I didn’t know whether to be concerned or not from his soreness from the last couple of days.”
Allen finished with 18 points off the bench, going 8 of 13 from the field and 2 of 6 from three-point range.
Shane Battier used the game to break out of a shooting slump dating back to the Heat’s first game against the Pacers. He was 3 of 7 from three-point range for nine points.
“I won’t have to go home and flog myself tonight,” Battier said.
Bosh had 25 points in 26 minutes, going 11 of 16 from the field to go along with a team-high eight rebounds. James had 18 points and went 8 of 11 from the field. He also had eight assists and six rebounds.
DeMarcus Cousins led the Kings with 27 points. McLemore had 20.