Thursday, March 8, 2012
Bosh, Haslem break through late for Heat
By Michael Wallace
MIAMI - For three and a half quarters on Wednesday night, Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh couldn't get anything going offensively. He missed 11 of his first 12 shots and was struggling to find his rhythm as the Heat fell behind by 10 at home against the Atlanta Hawks.
The kind of night Bosh was having to that point was essentially a microcosm of the season Heat forward Udonis Haslem had been toiling through.
But then their fates changed in the final three minutes as the Heat rallied for a 89-86 victory to win their 11th straight game at home. Bosh and Haslem both shook off some recent demons with big plays in the clutch to help lift the Heat.
Bosh turned his night around with a key block with seven minutes left, a play that ignited his effort on both ends of the court. He went on to hit two shots, including a hook that brought the Heat to within 80-79 with 3:02 left to play. Bosh then followed with a baseline jumper on a pass from Dwyane Wade to put the Heat ahead 85-81 with 33 seconds remaining.
"No matter what happens, we stay in it together and we trust each other," said Bosh, who shot just 3 of 14 from the field to finish with nine points and eight rebounds after scoring 20 in Tuesday's win against New Jersey. "I had wide-open looks the whole game. I guess my legs weren't as into it as (Tuesday) night."
Then, it was Haslem's turn to regroup and overcome some struggles that have haunted him most of the season. Just five days after he missed a jumper from the top of the key at the buzzer in a loss at Utah, Haslem found himself in position to make a huge play for the Heat on Wednesday against Atlanta.
With the Heat clinging to a 85-84 lead in the final seconds, Wade drove into the lane and rose up to deliver a lob pass that Haslem caught and dunked to extend the Heat's lead to three. Hawks guard Jannero Pargo missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer, and the Heat held on for the win.
Both Haslem and Bosh addressed how they overcame their struggles, and also how vital it was for teammates Wade and LeBron James to continue to trust them to make plays at the finish. Plenty went right for the Heat on a night when they scored 32 points off 22 turnovers, got 31 points and 11 rebounds from James, a defensive spark in the third that allowed them to overcome a double-digit deficit, and a dominant effort from Wade to close it out.
But the late-game performances from Bosh and Haslem were critical in the Heat's breakthrough. Haslem was 4 of 6 from the field and had eight points, four rebounds and four steals against the Hawks. He had not made a shot in his previous two games.
"I went back to the basics the last couple of days," said Haslem, who added that his connection with Wade on the alley-oop brought back memories of their chemistry from the Heat's 2006 championship season. "We've been doing that for years. It felt good to get back to that play down the stretch. It was just like old times. He found me, and I was able to go up and finish."