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Chris Bosh Shines as Heat Leader and Other Takeaways from Saturday's NBA Action

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistNovember 2, 2014

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Any speculation regarding Chris Bosh's inability to serve as the Miami Heat's offensive alpha dog in place of LeBron James can officially be put to rest. 

Following a 26-point, 15-rebound opening statement against the Washington Wizards, Bosh totaled 30 points (9-of-17 shooting) and eight rebounds in Miami's 114-96 win over the Philadelphia 76ers Saturday night.

So for those of you keeping score at home, Bosh is 2-of-2 this season in terms of crossing the 25-point threshold. Last season, he did so all of seven times, according to Basketball-Reference.com. Jason Lieser of The Palm Beach Post provided some additional stats on Bosh:

Jason Lieser @JasonLieser

Bosh's first 2 games: 56p on 18/35 FGs, 5/9 threes, 23r. Enjoying the new role? “It’s fun, I’m not gonna lie."

Operating as Miami's offensive fulcrum, Bosh has been simply electric, burning opponents from nearly every spot on the floor.  

Case in point: Bosh has opened the season 5-of-9 from three-point range after drilling two of his five attempts against the Sixers. 

No longer functioning as a supplementary scorer from the corners who serves to take pressure off his teammates, Bosh has continued to make opponents pay for not respecting his range. But now, the looks are coming primarily from above the break. 

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Whether he's acting as a covert trailer in transition ready to spot up at a moment's notice or simply flaring out to the three-point line off pick-and-rolls, Bosh is an absolutely lethal weapon. 

Which is exactly why he wants opponents to continue disrespecting his range, according to The Palm Beach Post's Jason Lieser: 

Jason Lieser @JasonLieser

When will teams start guarding the Bosh 3? “Never, I hope,” he says.

But that's not all.

Through two games, Bosh has attempted 16 free throws, 11 of which came on Saturday against Philadelphia. 

After watching his free-throw rate steadily decline each of the past four years in a more marginalized role, Bosh has the ability to work his way back toward a career average of .460, according to Basketball-Reference.com

There's also the matter of Bosh's polished work below the charity stripe, which was on full display Saturday evening. 

Chris Bosh's shot chart vs. Philadelphia
Chris Bosh's shot chart vs. PhiladelphiaCredit: NBA.com/Stats

It didn't matter if he was facing up, backing down, falling away or taking defenders off the dribble. Bosh simply had his way against a Philadelphia frontcourt comprised of Nerlens Noel, Henry Sims and Brandon Davies. 

And you can expect that to become a trend no matter who the Heat are playing now that Dwyane Wade is receiving added defensive attention. 

According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel's Ira Winderman, Wade discussed making an impact now that defenses are game-planning as if he's the alpha dog. 

"They were putting two men on me coming off the pick-and-roll," he said. "When your shots aren't falling, you've got to find different ways to impact the game."

If teams continue drafting defensive schemes to thwart Wade's expertise in the pick-and-roll, expect Bosh's numbers to balloon like crazy. 

Bosh will look to score at least 25 points for the third straight game when the Heat host the Toronto Raptors Sunday at 6 p.m. ET. 

Around the Association 

NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 1: Monta Ellis #11 of the Dallas Mavericks shoots against Anthony Davis #23 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the game on November 1, 2014 at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowle
Gary Dineen/Getty Images

Dallas Withstands Anthony Davis' Reign of Terror

Anthony Davis finished with 31 points, 15 rebounds, three blocks and two steals, but the New Orleans Pelicans were unable to hang with the Dallas Mavericks late, despite outscoring the opposition by 17 in the third quarter. 

In a good old-fashioned Western Conference shootout, Dallas was able to close out New Orleans after dropping 66 points in the first half and outscoring the Pelicans by eight in the final frame. 

All told, the Mavericks finished with six players in double figures, but it easily could have been eight. Jameer Nelson and J.J. Barea each finished with eight points, while Chandler Parsons led the way with 20. 

Jimmy Butler Steps Up in Derrick Rose's Absence

Nov 1, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (21) shoots over Minnesota Timberwolves guard Andrew Wiggins (22) during the first quarter at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

In his season debut, Jimmy Butler nailed a pair of go-ahead free-throws with 0.2 seconds remaining in regulation against the Minnesota Timberwolves to hand the Chicago Bulls a thrilling 106-105 victory. 

With Derrick Rose sidelined due to two sprained ankles, Butler seized the moment a day after failing to agree to terms on a contract extension, dropping a team-high 24 points on 6-of-12 shooting (11-of-15 from the free-throw line).  

However, Ricky Rubio, who agreed to a four-year, $55 million extension Friday, tied a franchise record with 17 assists in the loss. Kevin Martin finished with a game-high 33 points as the Timberwolves fell to 1-2. 

Joe Johnson and Kevin Garnett Turn Back the Clock

Joe Johnson matched the Detroit Pistons' fourth-quarter output by himself with 15 points, propelling the Brooklyn Nets to a 102-90 win. He finished with 34 points (14-of-23 shooting), eight rebounds and six assists in 39 minutes. Johnson's point total set a couple of personal records, per a Brooklyn Nets tweet:

Brooklyn Nets @BrooklynNets

Joe Johnson's 34 points are the most he's scored in a road game as a Net and the 2nd-most points he's scored in a game as a Net.

More surprising, though, was the play of Kevin Garnett. In 35 minutes, Garnett scored 18 points (a Nets career high) and grabbed 14 rebounds. According to Basketball-Reference.com, Saturday marked just the third time since 2010 that Garnett tallied at least 18 points and 14 rebounds in a regular-season game. 

Klay vs. Kobe

Klay Thompson made good on his four-year, $70 million max extension by exploding for a career-high 41 points on 14-of-18 shooting (5-of-7 from three) to lead the Golden State Warriors over the Los Angeles Lakers, 127-104. 

Highlights of Thompson's career night can be viewed here:

Stephen Curry pieced together an excellent performance, as well, scoring 31 points on 10-of-19 shooting (3-of-8 from three). 

Warriors PR @WarriorsPR

It's the first time a GSW backcourt has combined for 70+ in a non-OT game since Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry scored 71 on 10/27/10 vs. HOU.

However, Kobe Bryant didn't go quietly into the night. 

True on 12 of his 28 shots, Bryant finished with 28 points, including 19 in the third quarter, in an epic duel between respected marksmen.  

No Durant, No Westbrook, No Problem

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - NOVEMBER 1: Perry Jones #3 of the Oklahoma City Thunder handles the ball against the Denver Nuggets during the game at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on November 1, 2014 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledge
Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

Behind 23 points apiece from Perry Jones and Serge Ibaka, the Oklahoma City Thunder downed the Denver Nuggets 102-91. 

While Jones' rapid emergence continued as he shot 9-of-18 from the field and 3-of-7 from three, the Thunder's most surprising stat line came courtesy of Kendrick Perkins. 

In 20 minutes off the bench, Perkins scored 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting while pulling down five rebounds. ESPN.com's Royce Young tweeted that Perkins tied a personal best with his point total: 

Royce Young @royceyoung

Kendrick Perkins with 17. That ties the most points he's scored in a game in a Thunder uniform.

Since joining the Oklahoma City Thunder, Perkins has now scored at least 15 points just three times in the regular season, according to Basketball-Reference.com.

Offensive Futility Abounds 

The Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Charlotte Hornets 71-69 to start a season 3-0 for the first time in franchise history. However, the 71 points were the fewest Memphis has scored in a winning effort since 1996, according to Basketball-Reference.com

Elsewhere, the Boston Celtics shot 1-of-25 from three (4 percent) in a 104-90 loss to the Houston Rockets. According to Basketball-Reference.com, the Celtics became the first team in league history to attempt at least 25 threes and make a maximum of one in a single game. 

Paul Pierce Doesn't Last Long in D.C. Debut

Paul Pierce's home debut with the Washington Wizards left plenty to be desired because he never gave himself the chance to impress, according to The Washington Post's Michael Lee: 

Michael Lee @MrMichaelLee

Paul Pierce just got ejected in the first half of his home debut for #wizards. For arguing a clear path foul. Um. Hmmm. Welcome.

Here's the proof: 

Sans Pierce, the Wizards held on to beat the Milwaukee Bucks, 108-97, and second-year man Otto Porter scored a career-high 21 points on a night when Washington's offense fired on all cylinders. It was a record-setting game for the Wizards as it relates to the number of players scoring at least 18 points, per a team tweet: 

Washington Wizards @WashWizards

The last time the #Wizards had 5 players score at least 18 points in a game? December 29th, 1995. Great all-around effort tonight #dcRising

The D.C. crowd couldn't get enough of the Georgetown product:

Circus Shot of the Night: Kobe Bryant Edition

With time running down in the second quarter, Bryant split two defenders and knocked down one of the most spectacular reverse layups you'll see this season: 

Dunk of the Night

Feast your eyes on K.J. McDaniels, athletic wunderkind.  

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