Miami Heat vs. Sacramento Kings: Grading Miami's Performance

Sean Hojnacki@@TheRealHojnackiFeatured ColumnistDecember 28, 2013

The Heat brought a six-game winning streak into Sacramento but Dwyane Wade wasn't there to help out.
The Heat brought a six-game winning streak into Sacramento but Dwyane Wade wasn't there to help out.Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Sacramento Kings hosted the surging Miami Heat on Friday, Dec. 27, and in front of a raucous crowd at Sleep Train Arena, the Kings cooled off the defending champions with a 108-103 overtime win.

DeMarcus Cousins led the way with 27 points and 17 rebounds. Rudy Gay added 26 points on 11-of-19 shooting, and Isaiah Thomas notched a double-double with 22 and 11 dimes. LeBron James led all scorers with 33 points, but the Heat shot 44 percent from the field to 49 for Sacramento and couldn't come up with the offense to match when it mattered most.

SACRAMENTO, CA - DECEMBER 27:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat goes up for a shot against the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena on December 27, 2013 in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Miami was trying to defend a six-game winning streak while short-handed as Dwyane Wade (knee), Ray Allen (knee) and Chris Andersen (back) all sat out with nagging soreness.

The Heat led 23-6 after eight minutes of play, but they sputtered through the end of the third quarter and ceded the lead to Sacramento. A 16-15 fourth quarter forced overtime, and the Heat couldn't get anything cooking in the extra period. Miami allowed more points (19) in OT than in the entire fourth quarter.

The Heat had a four-point lead with 1:19 remaining when Chris Bosh blocked Thomas' shot, but Mario Chalmers committed a needless flagrant foul with a hip check on Cousins. That opened the door for the Kings to nip them.

Coach Erik Spoelstra called it a "proactive" move to rule out Wade and Co. prior to this loss. It would be surprising to see the Heat be proactive by resting Wade for the next game, which comes against the best-in-the-West Portland Trail Blazers. What a difference a day makes!

Player grades start at a C+ for a decent overall performance. That increases by a full letter grade for certain extraordinary accomplishments (30 points, 15 rebounds, high-IQ play, et al.) and decreases by the same margin for less-than-ordinary performances (worse than 25 percent shooting, lots of turnovers, especially awful defense, et al.). We'll put role players on the grading curve.

Instead of gold stars and frowny faces, here are grades for every Heat player. 

Key Player Grades

LeBron James, Power Forward 

James flirted with a triple-double once again and had eight assists and eight boards to go with his 33 points.

But the end of the fourth quarter was a head-scratcher. LeBron lost a pass from Michael Beasley out of bounds with 42 seconds left. Then he drained the clock to shank a three-point attempt off the front of the rim as time expired.

With the game deadlocked at 89, a contested three-pointer was not the ideal last shot. James did convert three consecutive three-pointers in overtime, but by that point it was already too late. 

For what it's worth, LeBron did not think Chalmers' action was worthy of a flagrant foul. Unfortunately, the refs did. 

Though it won't be of much consolation to him, LeBron passed Larry Bird on the all-time scoring list and he did it in 103 fewer games than the Boston Celtics legend. Bird was sitting on 21,791 points in 897 games over 13 seasons. Next up at No. 29 is Gary Payton with 21,813 points and No. 28 is Clyde "The Glide" Drexler at 22,195.

Grade: A-

Chris Bosh, Center

Chris Bosh had eight points, five boards and two blocks in the first half. He added 10 points after that but just two more rebounds as Miami got out-rebounded 51-35. Bosh also coughed up four turnovers. 

He showed off his potency on one drive to the hoop late in the fourth quarter. He faced up Cousins and dribbled by him for the slam off the pump fake. 

And his block on Thomas' shot in the last 90 seconds of regulation could have been a game-cinching defensive play were it not for Chalmers' curious decision to foul Cousins. That was his third block of the game.

Grade: B

Mario Chalmers, Point Guard

The last time Chalmers played in Sacramento was Jan. 12. He rained down 34 points and tied a franchise record with 10 three-pointers. This meeting with the Kings went a little differently as he was ice cold from downtown, finishing 1-of-7. 

Chalmers still notched 11 points and managed a season high in assists with 10. 

Chalmers committed the glaringly boneheaded flagrant foul by shouldering into Cousins on a rebound attempt with 1:19 left in the fourth quarter. The free throws cut Miami's lead to just two points, and the game just slipped away from the Heat.

Even granting the team was without Wade, Miami's final 17 minutes of the game was pretty punchless.  

Grade: B-

Roger Mason Jr., Shooting Guard

Roger Mason Jr. probably plays as Wade when he plays video games, but he started at the 2 with Wade resting his knee. It was his second start of the season and a nice opportunity for a guy who struggles to get playing time. 

Mason also started opposite rookie Ben McLemore, which wasn't the toughest assignment in the world. McLemore finished with two points and three turnovers.

However, Mason wasn't much better than his counterpart, and he went 1-of-5 shooting for four points. He also collected two assists, a steal and five fouls in just under 23 minutes. On the plus side, he posted a team-high plus-12 floor rating.

Grade: C-

Shane Battier, Small Forward

Battier drained three of his four attempts from beyond the arc in the first half and helped make up for D-Wade's absence.

SACRAMENTO, CA - DECEMBER 27:  Shane Battier #31 of the Miami Heat passes the ball against the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena on December 27, 2013 in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading
Rocky Widner/Getty Images

He invaded the Kings passing lanes and helped contribute to their boatload of 23 turnovers. He also pestered Sacramento's shooters and came up with a pair of blocks.

However, Battier played only 19 minutes, six of which came after halftime. Reserves Norris Cole and Michael Beasley saw the fateful minutes down the stretch and in overtime. 

Grade: B

Rest of Bench

Cole had his shot working from all over the floor, going 2-of-3 from three-point range and 2-of-3 from two-point range. If that's too confusing, he had 13 points in all. 

Udonis Haslem couldn't find much success on offense, and he was tasked with battling Cousins, who notched yet another double-double. Haslem shot 2-of-7 and got a couple of his attempts blocked. 

Beasley struggled from the field, but he did barrel over Cousins on one fourth-quarter play. It was ruled a blocking foul, and Beasley got the finger roll to go for the and-1. Beasley saw 33 minutes in the game, and that should be a cause for concern among Heat fans. He tallied nine points, six boards and three turnovers. 

Rashard Lewis woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. He went 1-of-5 from the field with a pair of turnovers. 

Grade: C-

What's Next?

The Heat have no time to rest as they face a mammoth matchup with the Trail Blazers (24-5) on Saturday, Dec. 28. The Blazers have stormed up the power rankings and have only two losses at the Moda Center.

At least if the Heat lose on Saturday, they can drown their sorrows at one of Portland's many famous breweries or sample the fine food trucks. 


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