MIAMI — The Miami Heat are putting on such a show these days that fans are even crowding around the basket during warmups.
Some might say the dunks LeBron James pulled off before Sunday’s home game against Cleveland were so impressive they provided better entertainment than the game itself.
James was back to providing some awesome dunks before Tuesday’s game against Sacramento at AmericanAirlines Arena. But there was no way that overshadowed what James and running mate Dwyane Wade did when it counted.
In Miami’s 141-129 double-overtime win, James scored 40 points and Wade had 39. It marked the most points they’ve combined for since they joined forces before the 2010-11 season.
“Even with a double-overtime game, those are still video-game numbers,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
True, this was the worst defensive game the Heat have played during their 12-game winning streak, which is tied for the longest since James, Wade and Chris Bosh came together and is two shy of the longest in team history. Miami (41-14) barely survived against the Kings (19-39), who are 5-26 on the road without a victory over a winning team.
But if you miss the old ABA, this game was for you. James had a career-high 16 assists and eight rebounds. Wade had seven assists and eight boards.
“Of course,” James said about whether it will go down as a box score he’ll remember. “It happens in a win and you guys know how I am about winning, and if you got to put up those numbers. D-Wade put up some crazy numbers, too.”
James shot 14 of 23 and Wade was 19 of 28. The only thing that disappointed them is they both didn’t get 40.
“It would have been cool, especially happening in a win,” James said.
“It would have been nice to get a 40-40,” Wade said.
Wade lamented that he missed two free throws with 20.8 seconds left in regulation. Then again, he realized had he not clanged the two with the Heat up 112-110, there likely wouldn’t have been any overtimes and neither player would have hit 40.
Kings center DeMarcus Cousins forced the first overtime by making a layup with 8.5 seconds remaining. So that set the stage for James to score 15 points the rest of the way, the most ever by a Heat player in overtimes, and Wade to get six more.
James had four it the first overtime and 11 in the second. He said he played ticked off in the second overtime after he believed he should have had a chance to win the game at the foul line at the end of the first extra session.
With the score tied 124-124, James looked to have gotten hacked by Kings forward John Salmons while under the bucket. But nothing was called and the Heat had just 0.4 seconds left on an inbound play, only enough for Bosh to airball a 20-footer.
“I got fouled at the end of the first overtime,” James said. “The guy grabbed my whole arm (when) I was trying to go up for a layup and it wasn’t called.”
Oh, well. It just meant five more minutes of James highlights. He got to 40 points when he hit a pair of free throws with 25 seconds left in the second overtime to put the Heat up 141-129.
Wade had the ball in his hands in the backcourt with 17 seconds left and was dribbling out the clock. But Kings guard Tyreke Evans strangely ran up and stole it before missing a layup.
“I said you should have thrown your body in front of him and he could have had two free throws,” James said about a way in which Wade could have reached 40. “He wasn’t thinking about it.”
James did get the rebound when Evans missed and threw the ball to Wade. Wade, in something that perhaps never has been done in NBA history, then put the ball on the court with his foot on top of it to run out the final 5 seconds.
“I said, ‘What the hell are you doing,'” Wade said of what he told Evans after his steal. “He said, ‘I play to the end.’ I was like, ‘Oh, thanks for the turnover.'”
To say it was a crazy night would be correct. It was appropriate that late in the game the Ozzy Osbourne song “Crazy Train” blared out of the loudspeakers.
The Kings also had a guy lighting up the scoreboard in guard Marcus Thornton, who had 36 points off the bench. After the Heat had taken a 110-101 lead with just more than two minutes left in regulation and the game looked over, Thornton drilled three 3-pointers as Sacramento closed with an 11-2 run.
“I got in a rhythm,” Thornton said. “My teammates found me.”
A lot of guys got into a rhythm on this night. The Heat shot 55.4 percent while also having Ray Allen score 21 points. The Kings shot 51.6 percent while also getting 26 points from Evans and 24 from Cousins.
At times, nobody looked to be guarding anybody, which prompted Spoelstra to say afterward he was “not happy with the way we played.” The game at times looked a lot like warmups with players freely getting open jumpers and doing fancy stuff in the layup line.
Then again, the Heat have shown lately that the layup line, or rather the dunk line, can be pretty exciting.
Before Sunday’s 109-105 win over Cleveland, the 6-foot-8 James put the ball between his legs at the free-throw line, bounced it off the backboard and dunked it over 6-10 teammate Rashard Lewis. Then before Tuesday’s game, James threw the ball high in the air and caught it off one bounce. He then put the ball between his legs while throwing down a wicked slam.
“As a team, it’s kind of like our new thing,” James said of his dunking and teammates joining him during warmups. “Me, Bird (Chris Andersen), Rio (Marcus Chalmers). Rio did a 360 (Tuesday) in warmups (that) was very impressive. Ray is getting involved too. (Norris) Cole is getting involved. D-Wade as well.”
James, though, is stealing the show. He does see one drawback to this.
“Maybe I should stop because I’m making a lot of people mad because (they say), ‘If you can do it in warmups, why don’t you want to be in the dunk contest,'” said James, who never has competed in the event during All-Star Weekend.
James said that lightheartedly. After all, it was hard for anybody to be too mad at him Tuesday considering the show he put on along with Wade once the game started.