On Thursday, The Zero Club came through for the Heat.
It’s not an official club, mind you. Just one that you could throw together from looking at the stat sheet until 2 minutes 7 seconds remained in the game: point guard Mario Chalmers, 0 for 5 from three-point range; Ray Allen, 0 for 6; and Chris Bosh, zero rebounds.
Yet in that final 2:07, those three kept coming up with smart, timely plays the Heat needed to escape Game 5 with a 96-94 win and slip into another Eastern Conference finals instead of heading for a Game 6 in Brooklyn, New York.
Bosh finally got that first rebound with 2:07 left on a Paul Pierce missed jumper with the Heat down 91-86. Later, when the Nets crossed up America and went to Shaun Livingston, Bosh rebounded the resulting clanked contested shot with the Heat up 93-91 with 22.4 seconds left.
And Miami was up 93-91 because Allen nailed a corner three-pointer after Chalmers, who usually figures if his first six shots fail, his seventh must fall, passed up a wide open three-pointer to give Allen a chance to follow that philosophy. Allen ignited AmericanAirlines Arena with the bomb with 32.0 seconds left.
After the Bosh rebound of the Livingston miss, the Heat called a timeout. Allen got fouled on the inbounds play as the Nets nearly stampeded him into the second row to deny him the ball. Instead, they did exactly what they didn’t want to do and the ace free throw shooter sank two free throws down the stretch that pushed the Heat’s margin to 95-91.
“I was seeing shots from a different angle than I had seen in previous games,” Allen said. “All of us were because they were doubling LeBron [James] and we were getting different looks. From the vantage point of us knocking them down early in the game, we got a little discouraged because we weren’t making those shots in the first half. It didn’t change my mind or how I felt about what I was going out there. I still felt like I was in a good rhythm and I was still searching, even if I don’t shoot the ball I’m always ready.”
Chalmers said he didn’t even realize it was Allen he was swinging the ball to, just figured the person had a better shot than he did.
“Very close. If the situation was there again, 50-50,” Chalmers said when asked how close he came to taking that shot. “If I feel I had a better shot than Ray, I would’ve taken it. In this case, Ray had a better shot.”
Although Bosh admitted to frustration overall during Thursday’s game, he shrugged off the first half.
“You have to trust what you do,” Bosh said. “They were great shots. We had wide open looks. If you don’t make them, move on to the next one. But you have to continue to stay aggressive. Keep shooting the ball. Because if you’re open and you don’t shoot it, you might as well come out of the game.”
Heat coach Erik Spoesltra said the team fed off Bosh’s late intensity after James knocked the ball from Pierce with :05 left and the Heat up by two. Officials went to replay while Bosh shouted, “Just get a stop!” at his teammates.
“That kind of takes the thinking out of it,” Bosh said.