In a game that was much tougher than expected, the Miami Heat narrowly defeated the Charlotte Bobcats by a score of 105-92. The Bobcats were within two points as late as the 6:24 mark of the fourth quarter.
Led by Dwyane Wade, Miami managed to pull away.
D-Wade finished with a game-high 29 points, tacking on an additional nine rebounds and five assists. LeBron James was right behind him with 27 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists and four steals.
James' two late three-pointers helped extend an eventually insurmountable late-game advantage.
So how did it all go down and who did what? To give you a hint, the Heat overcame a poor night from one of their stars and a no-show from their reserves.
A direct result of Ray Allen sitting out with a sore right shoulder (via Fox Sports).
Overall Grade: B+
Mario Chalmers may not receive the same praise as his Big Three teammates, but the former Kansas Jayhawk continues to be a driving force on both ends of the floor.
On defense, Chalmers had his hand in the passing lanes and played tough on Kemba Walker. Although Walker continues to play All-Star-caliber basketball, that is far from Chalmers' defensive doing.
Chalmers' pick-and-roll defense was brilliant and on-ball pressure supreme. Walker just so happens to be one of the fastest rising stars in the game.
As for Ramon Sessions, he took it to Norris Cole more than he did Chalmers.
Chalmers' defensive pressure was on full display during the second quarter.
With Charlotte looking to get out in transition, Chalmers tipped a sideline-streaking pass. This led to D-Wade picking the ball up and hitting LeBron James for a transition finish.
Offensively speaking, he was even better.
Chalmers finished the game with 17 points, four assists and four three-point field goals. He made three of those three-pointers as the Heat stars slowed down and Kemba Walker led a furious comeback.
Chalmers may have struggled with his one-on-one D, but he played well as a team defender. He also kept the Bobcats at bay during the third.
A respectable evening from Chalmers as he stepped in to fill Chris Bosh's foul-based void.
Overall Grade: A+
Aside from a questionable kick of Ramon Sessions, there wasn't much to complain about when it came to Dwyane Wade. In fact, Wade proved something very important.
He's still an elite, all-around weapon.
Wade finished the game with 29 points, nine rebounds and five assists. He also added a steal and a blocked shot.
A plus-minus of positive-19 makes his evening all the more impressive.
D-Wade played smothering defense on Gerald Henderson during game-tying situations. This allowed the Heat to set up their half-court offense and get out in transition.
Both of which were areas where Wade thrived.
Ten-of-19 from the floor, 1-of-1 from three and 8-of-10 from the free-throw line. Impressed?
In other words, Wade had a counter to every occasional shortcoming. His jump shot with five minutes remaining in response to Kemba Walker's three proved that.
As did his follow-up bucket one possession later.
Wade's efforts and production enabled the Heat to overcome a very poor outing and secure the W.
Had Wade not been on his game, you can bet this would have gone the other way.
Overall Grade: A+
It really speaks to one's greatness when a player can flirt with a triple-trouble while failing to play with consistency.
Twenty-seven points, 12 rebounds, eight assists and four steals suggest an A+. If that's an off night for James, we won't argue.
After missing his first five jump shots, James finally converted a shot from more than seven feet away. During the fourth quarter, James hit a 24-foot three-point field goal to open up a five-point lead after Charlotte brought it to within two.
He'd tack on another just minutes later.
Although it is Dwyane Wade who earned the game ball, LeBron was a statistical wizard. He pieced together a dream outing for the average player and did so in spite of committing three turnovers.
Missing 5-of-7 jump shots should hurt one's grade. Not enough to bring this down from an A+, though.
Not when LeBron is posting these numbers and hitting clutch three-pointers.
Overall Grade: C+
Udonis Haslem missed all four of his field-goal attempts and committed and inexcusable turnover. He also grabbed six rebounds and posted a team-high plus-minus of positive-22.
Haslem's performance was average but influence supreme. So how do you grade that?
Considering his assignment, Hakim Warrick, posted 18 points and nine rebounds, we'll go with average. What else can we say about a player who displayed offensive influence, but offered weak production and lacked defensive consistency.
Haslem did very little to warrant a lower grade, so why not settle for a C+?
Overall Grade: C-
Chris Bosh found himself in foul trouble and struggled to keep the Charlotte Bobcats out of the paint. Even as he posted 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting, his performance was poor, at best.
Five fouls, four turnovers and just three rebounds in 30 minutes provide the statistical evidence.
Furthermore, the Bobcats scored 40 points in the paint, had 14 second-chance points and grabbed 10 offensive rebounds. Where was Bosh?
When he wasn't on the sidelines, Bosh was committing fouls and failing to crash the boards. Furthermore, he only made one field goal during the second half.
Tack on 1-of-3 free-throw shooting and you have a very poor performance.
Overall Grade: B-
Shane Battier may be the best in the NBA at getting under an opponent's skin due to his uncanny ability to draw offensive fouls. Wednesday night was no different.
Statistically, Battier finished with nine points on three three-point field goals, three rebounds and one steal.
He also drew two late charges on youngsters Bismack Biyombo and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. This led to Charlotte's frustrations boiling over, thus forcing poise to escape the inexperienced Bobcats.
Although Battier did nothing to blow anyone away, he played hard-nosed ball and provided key stops defensively. He may not receive the respect he deserves, but Battier has a ring.
So who's crying?
Overall Grade: C-
With Ray Allen absent, it was all on James Jones to rise up and provide the sharpshooting. That's exactly what he did.
Jones finished with five points, which may not seem like much. The key to his performance, however, was the fact that they all came during a competitive second quarter.
Jones dropped in a three and a long two. His first two-point field goal of the season.
Jones also tallied four rebounds, two blocks and a plus-minus of positive-6.
Aside from Jones, the second unit failed to contribute very much. It finished with totals of 18 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and one steal.
Of that, Jones and Shane Battier were responsible for 14 points, seven rebounds, both blocks and the steal.
In other words, Miami's second unit failed to show up. An average plus-minus of negative-2.4 provides evidence.