Bad holiday guests, this bunch from Cleveland refused to get out of the Heat’s house until it became a bother to the hosts Saturday night.
Then again, the Heat broke for halftime in the midst of bum rushing the Cavs out, then seemed to forget to get off the couch to finish the job.
So the Heat required a big finish to pull out a 114-107 victory.
“The energy, the purpose of what we were doing waned just a little bit,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “That can change momentum in this league. You have to credit the Cavs for staying with it. They got life and made it a heck of a basketball game. We were able to make enough plays at both ends.”
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A big finish always seems to be on the shelf when the Heat’s Big 3 gets rolling. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh opened with a dominant offensive first half and closed with a myriad display of abilities, especially from James and Bosh.
Wade put up 20 points in the first half and ended with 24. Bosh took a game-high 17 shots and scored 22 points while getting a game-high 12 rebounds.
James led all scorers with 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting, had nine assists and tied his successor as Cleveland star savior, point guard Kyrie Irving, with a game-high four steals.
And James did so while turning the ball over only twice.
“That’s the best player in the game,” Spoelstra said. “What I liked about it was the efficiency of nine of 12, the nine assists with only two turnovers. That means you’re making a lot of positive plays for your basketball team without helping out the other side. That’s very tough.”
Down 100-98 after having been up by 16 at halftime, the Heat tied the game on a Bosh jumper. After Irving (19 points, three assists, three turnovers) bricked a three-pointer, James loped down the lane for a long-armed driving layup to make it 102-100.
The Cavs called timeout, but the game had swung for a final time. The teams traded three-point misses, with the difference being Bosh getting the offensive rebound at the Heat’s end. From the three-point line, James lasered a pass to Norris Cole for a layup. Another Bosh rebound at the defensive end and two Ray Allen free throws pushed the lead to 106-100.
Anderson Varejao went 1 of 2 from the free-throw line before James drew everyone to him and fed a wide-open Mario Chalmers. Three-pointer, 109-101 — say good night, Gracie.
“They are a veteran ball club,” Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson said. “They don’t get too rattled being down in the fourth quarter. This game and previous games, you either have Ray Allen or Chris Bosh making tough shots.”
Spoelstra said of Bosh: “I liked his pie chart. I liked how many different ways he impacted the game.”
Informed that Spoelstra seemed “excited” over his game, Bosh barely raised an eyebrow himself in deadpanning, “Spo? Excited? After the game, I just got this” — Bosh stared sternly in imitation — ‘Good game.’ ”
Wade and James each made their first five shots. Bosh had six rebounds and four dunks in the first half. The three combined for 53 points on 21-of-26 shooting.
“We tried to make too many home run passes that they baited us into,” Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. “It resulted in turnovers and easy points for those guys in transition.”
Bosh said while the Heat didn’t play the defense it wanted to throughout, “Offensively, it was great, except for the third quarter [16 total points]. Coming out, our energy was awesome.”