Chris Bosh Rises to the Moment with LeBron James Sidelined

Ethan Skolnick@@EthanJSkolnickNBA Senior WriterDecember 29, 2013

Sam Forencich/Getty Images

PORTLAND  Not on this night.

Another night, perhaps Chris Bosh would have demurred, accepted the coach's decision, gone with the flow, chilled to the side.

Perhaps he would have been satisfied that Erik Spoelstra had chosen to call his number at all, since that hasn't happened all that often since he came to Miami in 2010. That caused him to pay a public price in terms of perception, slapped by many with the "passive" label.

Not on this night, though. Not with LeBron James wearing a camel sports coat as he rested a sore groin on Saturday. He was limited to screwing around with some practice shots at halftime and later stomping the sidelines to encourage teammates.

Not with Dwyane Wade struggling with his rhythm after taking the previous game off. Not after what happened in Atlanta in January 2012, and in San Antonio in March 2013. There, Bosh's late three-pointers tied and won games, respectively, that both James and Wade watched.

Not when he had already scored 34 points, winning his matchup with LaMarcus Aldridge, one of the NBA's best bigs. Not with 7.7 seconds left and a two-point deficit against the team, the Trail Blazers, with the league's best record and which had been 7-1 in games decided by four points or less.

Not with a chance to avoid a rare two-game losing streak.

Not a chance.

"My call at the end of the game was much more conservative," Spoelstra said, after the Heat's 108-107 victory. "I drew something up to get him on the move, and he said no, I want it for three."

Bosh wanted the extra space, especially since he knew his momentum would take him away from the hoop anyway. 

He wanted the extra point too.

"I told him I wanted to go for the jugular," Bosh said.

"So he overruled it and became a prophet," Spoelstra said. "Why did I even diagram something else for him? I mean, he already hit two threes. He was feeling it, he wanted it, and as soon as he said it, I said, 'Yeah, that makes sense.' It was much better than what I had planned."

It was. So much better.

Norris Cole inbounded to Dwyane Wade from the left side, with Mario Chalmers running Damian Lillard down the baseline from right to left, while Ray Allen occupied Mo Williams' attention on the left wing. It was similar to the previous play, in which Allen's screen freed Wade for a slam.

Bosh set a brush screen—and this time, Aldridge left him to help Nicolas Batum chase down Wade.

"My job was to drive his man to me," Wade said.

It went just as they planned.

"It didn't really go exactly like that," Wade said.

OK, it didn't. Wade lost the handle briefly, before chucking the ball behind him on one bounce, fortunate that Williams didn't budge.

"He threw a crazy pass a little bit, I'm not going to lie," Bosh said. "But I was able to see it, nobody was in the vicinity, so I didn't have to rush, and I was able to lock into the goal the whole time."

Bosh collected it with his left side touching the three-point line, backing up, stepping in and launching from 26 feet with 2.6 seconds left.

With 0.5 seconds left, it fell through.

"Cold-blooded three," Wade said.

Dec 28, 2013; Portland, OR, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) and shooting guard Dwyane Wade (3) celebrate with Miami Heat center Chris Bosh (1) after he scores the game winning basket during the fourth quarter of the game against the Portlan
Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

After Aldridge couldn't convert a lob on the other end, Heat players stormed over to Bosh, with James, Michael Beasley and others punching him playfully as he screamed.

Wade called it the "first signature win of the season."

It was, without question, Bosh's signature performance: 37 points, 10 rebounds, 15-of-26 shooting.

This is the Bosh the Heat need, the one who doesn't always have an opportunity to emerge when everyone is available.

He spoke of how the other stars' absences allow him to paint with "a bigger brush" and reiterated that, no matter what some numbers show, "I'm a much better player than I was in Toronto. I was able to score a lot of points, but I wasn't a two-way player. I'm a two-way player now. I feel like I'm a lot better offensively. I feel like I'm a totally different player. CB4 is gone, a long time ago, can't get it back."

The Heat don't need that back, necessarily—not the dreadlocks, not the usage.

They simply need a little more consistent aggression, in personality and performance, whether James and Wade are playing or not.

They need the guy who seized the moment Saturday, in word and deed.

It was enough to impress someone who has seized so many.

"There's not a lot of guys that want to take the shot that I've come across in my time," Ray Allen said. "That confidence, even if it doesn't go in, you always say, you know what, we're going to get something good. He got a shot."

He made it count.

"He's in a good position a lot of times, because he is playing against a 4 or 5 man who has to help in pick-and-rolls a lot," Allen said. "We like that option consistently throughout the games."

Deep into the night.


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