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NBA A-Z: Miami Heat showcase championship defense of old
OAKLAND – A monumental moment took place for the Miami Heat on Wednesday night at Oracle Arena, though it’s not the one you’ve seen splashed across every headline and highlight reel in the NBA universe.
Sure, LeBron James, 28, became the youngest player to score 20,000-plus points and reach the 5,000-assist mark in the most apropos of ways, his selfless style portrayed so perfectly by his dynamic duality.
But the more relevant revelation for this Heat team that had been playing its worst basketball in the James-Dwyane Wade-Chris Bosh era was this: They defended. No, really, they did.
Remember when that was a given, when it was the calling card of this group that won last season’s championship on the foundation of their daunting ‘D’?
They’ve been calling collect this season, and still having to pay the price.
The 75 points allowed in a 17-point win against the Golden State Warriors that wasn’t nearly that close marked the third-lowest total for a Heat opponent this season, and you didn’t need to see the box score to know that the frenetic activity on one end (the Warriors shot 36.3% and had 21 turnovers) led to easy offense on the other (22 fast break points).
Even still, the Heat, who had lost four of their past six games before the Warriors win and take on the Los Angeles Lakers tonight at Staples Center, are ranked 12th in defensive rating (101.6 points per 100 possessions) after ranking fourth last season (97.1) and fifth in 2010-11 (100.7).