In a battle for first place in the Southeast Division, the Miami Heat toppled the Atlanta Hawks by a score of 101-92 Monday night. LeBron James led all scorers with 27 points and Dwyane Wade followed with 26. The Hawks were in this game for three quarters, but then the Heat just took off in the fourth and led by double-digits for a solid portion of the period.
So, how did each of the Miami players do? Let's break it down by grading their performances quarter-by-quarter.
Overall Game Grade: C
Mario Chalmers didn't really do much of anything, finishing with four points and four assists in 23 minutes of play. Of course, like usual, he took some verbal abuse from his teammates. It may have been warranted, as he just wasn't very good in any one aspect of the game. He wasn't terrible, but he wasn't exactly productive.
Decent start for Chalmers. Made his lone shot of the quarter, made a couple of free throws, and played some good defense on Jeff Teague, a quick point guard who could potentially give Chalmers problems. He did have one errant pass on an attempt at a backdoor feed to LeBron James, but at least it was a good idea.
Chalmers was pretty much invisible throughout this quarter. His most notable moment was when he air-balled a corner three. That's never a good thing.
Another period where Chalmers was nowhere to be seen. He didn't air ball a three this time, but he didn't do anything positive. He looks a little uncomfortable out there through three quarters of play.
Apparently, Spoelstra wasn't too happy with Chalmers' production during the first three quarters. His starting point guard didn't even play the fourth.
Overall Game Grade: A
Dwyane Wade was a tremendously efficient 11-of-13 from the floor and finished with 26 points. He did turn the ball over four times and made some other questionable decisions with the ball, but overall, this was an extremely solid effort from Wade. He set the tone early on with a very good first quarter and played very well in three of the four quarters.
Very nice first period for Wade. Went 3-of-3 and relentlessly attacked the basket. Also played some very good defense on Devin Harris, doing a great job closing out on him as he was attempting perimeter shots. Just another quarter at the office for D-Wade.
Wade followed up his very efficient first quarter with a so-so second. He was kind of sloppy with the basketball and missed some free throws. He did hit a three, but other than that, Wade was nothing better than mediocre in the second period.
Very good third quarter for Wade. He was hitting his shots like in the first, but this time, he was hitting mainly jumpers instead of getting to the basket. He made a couple of poor decisions with the ball, but he made up for it with his output in terms of scoring. Eleven points in the period for D-Wade.
Wade had a big fourth quarter, including a big shot late to really put Atlanta away. He did his thing on both ends of the floor and was a big reason why Miami didn't really allow the Hawks many good looks from the perimeter in the final period.
Overall Game Grade: A-
LeBron James is held to a higher standard than pretty much anyone else in the league, and with good reason. Nowadays, we look at a 27-point, seven-rebound, six-assist outing and think it was just another day at the office for him. This was far from a dominant LeBron outing (relatively speaking, of course). Still, it's hard to ignore his obvious overall impact on this contest. He really put Atlanta on the ropes early in the fourth, and the Hawks never recovered.
Nice first quarter for James, as he scored six points on five shot attempts and dished out a couple of assists. James also beat the buzzer with a layup to end the period. He did miss a couple of rotations that led to open threes for Atlanta, but LeBron is just getting warmed up.
For some reason, James was late on a lot of rotations in the first two quarters, and it resulted in some wide open threes for Atlanta. Still, he had 10 points in the second, including a strong tomahawk flush off of an offensive rebound. He also got a little bit of luck when he fired a pass up to Chalmers that would have went out of bounds if it hadn't ricocheted off the ref and back into play for a Miami bucket. But hey, it works
Somewhat of a mediocre quarter for LeBron, he was a little careless with the basketball and only made one bucket. Not only that, but he missed a dunk at the very end of the period and got bailed out on a foul with what looked like a poor call. His defense was a bit better.
LeBron exploded early on in the fourth, rising all the way above the rim to throw down an alley-oop pass from Norris Cole. He got the Heat out and running in transition and helped his team build a double-digit lead early on. He also played some really nice defense on Josh Smith.
Overall Game Grade: C
There really isn't much to say about Rashard Lewis this contest. He started in place of the ill Udonis Haslem, totaling 14 minutes. He hit one three. That's about it.
Lewis canned a three, which is what Miami brought him in for over the summer, and also grabbed a couple of rebounds. Nice first quarter for the wiry forward.
Lewis didn't play a single minute in the second period.
Uneventful third period for Lewis. He took, and missed, one shot and didn't really do anything else to merit any kind of discussion. Lewis just isn't that kind of player anymore anyway.
Lewis sat out his second full quarter.
Overall Game Grade: C
The fact that Chris Bosh put up a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds doesn't even come close to telling the full story here. This just wasn't a very good outing for Bosh, as Al Horford just had his way with him whenever Bosh was defending the Atlanta big man. Horford already had a double-double midway through the third quarter, due much in part to Bosh's ineptness defensively Monday night. Bosh also missed four free throws.
Bosh got off to a rough start in the first quarter, turning the ball over a couple of times and missing badly on his first couple of shots. He rebounded nicely, though, playing solid defense on Al Horford and altering a shot or two in the paint. Would still like to see him be more aggressive though.
Bosh was absolutely abused by Horford for much of this quarter. Horford was all over the glass as Bosh just did not box him out, resulting in second-chance opportunities for Atlanta. He did have a nice drive to the basket and hit a jumper, but his defense was non-existent after a solid first period on that end of the floor.
Bosh cannot cover Horford. Period. Horford is just too physical, as he absolutely dominated Bosh inside. Bosh also had a dunk blocked by Josh Smith, this coming after a game against the New Orleans Hornets in which he missed three dunks. Also, Bosh's inability to defend Horford attracted more Miami defenders into the lane whenever the Atlanta big man received the ball, leaving shooters open from three. Fortunately for the Heat, the Hawks didn't capitalize on most of those looks.
Well, at least this time Bosh didn't do anything badly defensively. He scored one point in the quarter off a free throw. Other than that, Bosh's impact was hardly felt, neither positively nor negatively.
Overall Game Grade: D+
Ray Allen simply wasn't hitting his shots. He finished 1-of-8 from the floor, misfiring on all three of his three-point attempts. He did collect six rebounds in nearly 27 minutes of play, but he looked like a man with tired legs for most of the night.
Gotta like what Ray brought to the table in the first. He had a beautiful save on a loose ball that was about to go out of bounds when he flipped it over his head and right to Norris Cole, who then dished it to LeBron for a flush. Also had a nice drive to the basket that made him look 27, not 37.
Allen got some minutes, but it didn't even seem like he was on the floor. He attempted one shot and missed and really didn't make an impact at all. That being said, it's not like he did anything so terrible to earn him anything less than an average grade.
Hard to really give a concrete grade for Ray in this quarter, as he only played a couple of minutes. He did throw one wild shot up at the basket that merely hit the backboard as the shot clock was about to expire. Through three quarters, Allen has played nearly 15 minutes and hasn't produced much of anything.
Allen took five shots in the fourth, but he missed all of them. He got some good looks, too, but he just wasn't able to convert. When Ray isn't making his shots, he isn't of much use other than spreading the floor, as he is not the kind of player who can penetrate anymore and is a liability defensively.
Overall Game Grade: A
What a job by the Miami bench. Norris Cole chipped in with 10 points on a perfect 4-of-4 from the floor, Shane Battier hit three treys, and Joel Anthony played some very nice defense inside. This group was a big part of the Heat's win Monday night.
Incredible first period for Miami's bench. Battier played some very good defense on Josh Smith in the post (although he did leave him for a couple of open threes), Anthony blocked and altered shots, and Norris Cole was a nice spark, coming with some aggressive D and knocking down a long trey.
Another solid quarter for the Heat bench. Battier and Mike Miller started out by making some threes, and Cole continued to bring positive energy on both ends. Even Anthony got into the mix offensively, kissing a layup off the glass. Thanks to the effort from the reserves, Wade and James were able to rest for the first five minutes of the period.
Miami's bench continues to contribute. Battier added a couple of more threes and Anthony helped compensate for Bosh's defensive struggles inside. Battier is also playing some surprisingly nice post defense on Josh Smith.
Battier drew a huge charge on Jeff Teague this quarter. Teague hit a floater that would have cut Miami's lead to six, but Battier got position and Teague ran him over. Cole continued to make shots and Anthony maintained his defensive presence in the middle. Yet another productive quarter for the Heat reserves.
Erik Spoelstra did a great job in this one, mixing and matching his lineups and wisely giving his starters rest at different points in the game. A bit shorthanded in the frontcourt without Haslem, it didn't matter, as Spoelstra beautifully orchestrated this one and went with his hot hands throughout.
Some people say that anyone can coach this Heat team, but come on, you have to give credit where credit is due. Great job by Spoelstra in the win.
There were some moments where the Heat defense looked a little suspect, particularly in defending the three-ball, but for the most part, this was a very good all-around effort from Miami. Both James and Wade had great outings, and Spoelstra got some outstanding production from his bench.
After some shoddy performances over the past couple of weeks, this was a nice win for the Heat over a solid Atlanta team.