Photo by Alan Diaz/AP
This might have been a case of looking ahead. Or merely a case of lacking focus against an opponent with a fuzzy record.
That certainly won’t be the case when the Miami Heat next take the court, Thursday night at AmericanAirlines Arena against Jeremy Lin and the New York Knicks.
Tuesday, though, it merely was about getting a victory and getting on to something more significant.
So with Mario Chalmers loading up from beyond the 3-point line, Dwyane Wade doing his typical early damage and Norris Cole providing needed energy off the bench, the Heat pushed past the Sacramento Kings 120-108 Tuesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.
“We weren’t necessarily sharp consistently throughout the game,” coach Erik Spoelstra said, “but we did some nice things in spurts, in stretches.”
Against a pair of former second-round picks with familiar names, the Heat extended their winning streak to seven and made it 18 victories in their last 21 games.
“They pushed us to the very end,” Spoelstra said.
It wasn’t easy, and Kings guards Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Thornton made the Heat play to the finish.
“They played loose, they made some tough shots,” Heat forward Chris Bosh said. “Our focus was just to stay with it.”
Thomas scored 20 of his 24 points in a wild third period that saw the Heat outscore the Kings 36-35.
Thornton, the Heat 2009 second-round pick who was traded on draft night to the New Orleans Hornets, added 23 points.
“We had to turn the curb against them and just play a little harder,” Bosh said.
With Chalmers scoring 20 points by shooting 6 of 12 from beyond the arc, the Heat were able to keep pace with Sacramento’s backcourt, particularly with Wade scoring 17 of his 30 points in the first half.
“I’ve been in a rhythm lately,” Chalmers said. “Today I was able to get into a good flow.”
Factor in 18 points and eight assists from LeBron James, and 12 points from Cole, who made his first five shots, and the Heat finally were able to pull away, after the Kings went into the fourth quarter within 93-88.
Cole’s energy was essential.
“That’s my job, to bring spark off the bench,” he said. “Tonight we needed a little more.”
But there was enough to finally get through, including Udonis Haslem grabbing seven rebounds to move ahead of Rony Seikaly and only behind Alonzo Mourning on the team’s all-time rebounding list.
“Eventually,” Spoelstra said with a grin, “he’ll be the mayor of this town.”