Wednesday, December 19, 2012
The stats behind Heat's head-scratching win
By Tom Haberstroh
MIAMI -- It really doesn't seem to add up.
The Heat were outrebounded by the Timberwolves 52 to 24. Heading into Tuesday's game, teams that registered a plus-28 in the rebounding margin were 106-3 since 1985-86, according to Basketball-Reference.com.
One hundred six wins. Three losses.
Here's a chronological visual, starting with the most recent:
Now go ahead and add an "L" to the beginning of that string. Somehow, the Timberwolves managed to lose a game in which they were plus-28 in the rebounding margin. First time in 60 previous such instances.
And the Heat won by 11.
Rebounding margin has its flaws. Sometimes a positive rebounding margin means the other team just missed a lot of shots, because the defensive team usually recovers a missed shot. So rebounding margin is not the end-all, be-all. Even so, the Timberwolves shot 43 percent from the floor, which is a ton of available rebounds the Heat didn't gobble up. No two ways about it: The Heat got bludgeoned on the boards.
Yes, the Heat got crushed on the boards, but just as notable is who got dominated. Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem didn't collect a defensive rebound all night. That's happened to Bosh only one other time in his career while playing as much as he did on Tuesday (27 minutes).
Six hundred eighteen such games. Happened only once.
And Haslem? The Heat's all-time leading rebounder played 18 minutes on Tuesday and registered a goose egg in the defensive-rebounding column. Like Bosh, that's happened only one other time in his career. Five hundred seventy-three games. Happened only once.
On Tuesday, it happened to both Bosh and Haslem.
So how did the Heat win?
LeBron James had a big hand in it. He registered 22 points, 11 assists and 7 rebounds to go along with 4 blocks on the defensive end. That's a complete game. How many players have matched that stat line in the past 15 years?
James (5 times).
Chris Mullin (once, in 1995)
Clyde Drexler (once, in 1988)
Charles Barkley (once, in 1986).
So, no one other than James had done it in the past 16 seasons. Impressive feat.
But here's the kicker: LeBron didn't turn the ball over even once.
How many players have accomplished at least 27-11-7-4-0?
No one -- until Tuesday night when James did it. To top it all off, he had a zero in the personal-foul column, too.
The game gets weirder. Joel Anthony had more assists (1) than starting point guard Mario Chalmers (0). Anthony had 9 assists in all of last season. Chalmers has registered more than 9 assists in two separate games this season. So there's that.
And then there's this: The Heat tallied 14 blocks to the Timberwolves' 1.
How often does that happen -- registering at least 14 blocks while the opponent gets just one? It's more rare than your birthday. Just 14 times in the past 28 seasons or once every two seasons.
"We just have to keep fighting and figuring out ways," James said.