Miami Heat 107, Phoenix Suns 92 – LeBron's big fourth


For the first time this season, the Phoenix Suns let a game get away from them.

The Miami Heat, led by a 11-point fourth quarter from LeBron James, used its usual second half push on Monday to separate from a pesky Suns team and then held off a solid push-back from Jeff Hornacek’s crew by feeding the MVP. Phoenix lost by double-digits for the first time this season by a final of 107-92 in South Beach.

With the Suns trailing 73-71 with 2:34 left in the third quarter, the Heat ran off a 15-2 run over the the final two minutes of the third and well into the fourth. Two three-pointers by Ray Allen that were part of the run were the punch to the Suns’ gut. At the same time, Phoenix reacted well after the blitz, continuing to fight and punching into the Miami lead to bring itself within nine points in the final three minutes.

Of course, James would have his moments. Whenever he made it clear he was looking to attack, he was successful despite P.J.Tucker’s best efforts. James isolated Tucker late in the fourth quarter and hit three fadeaway jumpers over Tucker, who didn’t receive double-team help but held his place on the block.

The end result was James finishing with 35 points on 11-of-14 shooting.

Phoenix was led by Channing Frye’s 16 points and 4-for-8 shooting from deep, while Goran Dragic sniffed a triple-double by finishing with 14 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.

Ryan Weisert asked the big questions to preview the matchup with the reigning champs. Here are the answers.

Can the Suns take advantage of the Heat from downtown?

The Heat play a unique defense and one that gave the Suns a lot of opportunity – but not necessarily good opportunity.

Coming into the game, Phoenix was a middle-of-the-road but impressive-for-them team beyond the three-point arc, hitting a decent 37.9 percent from deep this season. Meanwhile, the Heat were surprisingly giving up the NBA’s second-worst opponent three-point accuracy of 39.4 percent.

Blitzing on pick-and-rolls, Miami didn’t let Goran Dragic and company find open shots easily. Instead, they required the Suns to find their teammates on difficult skip-passes, which they completely fairly well. While some long passes led to turnovers – the Suns had 15 on the day – the completed ones allowed an actively-rotating Miami defense to recover enough during the passes’ flight to challenge the threes.

The result was Phoenix flinging 32 but hitting just eight, or 25 percent.

On the positive side of things, the Suns held a Miami squad that’s hitting 43.9 percent from deep to 7-of-22 shooting (31.8 percent). While the made threes were painful, it could have been worse.

How will the Suns defend the Big Three?

As expected, P.J. Tucker got the assignment on James and did a decent enough job. Aside from a few run-outs – cherry-picking, really – James was limited to 12 first-half points on just seven shots. Like he usually does, the King deferred early on and failed to look all that aggressvie until he hit a three-pointer to break a 47-all tie following a Suns second-quarter rally.

The big thing: James had four first-half turnovers. Both teams forced passes and likewise saw the opposing active defense jump passing lanes to get into the open court. And yeah, despite the relative success in the first half, James went at Tucker with success late in the game.

What could Tucker do? Not much else.

Wade had the most success against Phoenix in the first half, scoring 13 points by blowing by Suns defenders and taking advantage at the rim against slow rotations from the weakside.

Bosh got into foul trouble early. He picked up a very early charge by passing up his shot – a 20-footer – and trying to drive only to find Tucker waiting in the paint for him. Miami struggled to contain pick-and-rolls against Miles Plumlee, but the foul trouble may have been a blessing for the Heat, which got a solid boost off the bench from Chris “Birdman” Andersen.

Birdman got going rolling to the hoop as the Suns bench was thoroughly outplayed, especially by failing to play the pick-and-roll defense in timely fashion. Miami led by as many as nine in the first half before the Suns’ starting unit came back to stabilize things and tie the game at 47 before James’ three-pointer just before the break.

Will the Suns miss Michael Beasley?

Other than the Morris twins, probably not.

Beasley finished with eight points and six boards. Meanwhile, his buddies, the Morris twins, combined for 25 points and 14 rebounds to lead the bench unit that struggled especially on the defensive side of things – and in both halves.

  • DBreezy

    I’ll give Tucker above average effort, but anyone who gives up 11-14 shooting didn’t do a decent job:) I think PJ even invited the trouble when he got up under James on the wing and tried to get physical with him. You can’t tell on TV, but it looked like he might have said something too, but in any case at that point Lebron backed him down, took his sandwich and the assault began.

  • foreveris2long

    No shame in this loss as they left it all on the floor.It was a good education as to what it takes to beat a champion on their home floor.

  • Luka

    Live by the jumper, and die by the jumper. To beat Miami you need a solid big man to dump the ball to. You can’t beat the Heat by running. Suns did come off a back to back so you have to cut them a little slack.

  • DBreezy

    It’s not just that you can’t beat the Heat by running, you can’t beat them playing small or similar sized lineups to them which the Suns did.

  • vtsunrise

    If you can’t take the Heat, get out of Miami.

    And home to Phoenix? What?

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Let’s see…
    I mention the Suns have not lost by double-digits all season….and they lose by double-digits

    I reflect on how bad the Jazz are….and Utah promptly wins a game.

    Let me try something….
    I have NEVER won the Grand Prize in the Lottery !!

  • HunterSThompson

    Am I the only one wondering about Bledsoe and the extent of his injury? According to Babby it’s just a soft-tissue shin bruise – is that really enough to keep him out this long? Is there any chance he is being “encouraged” to sit out to showcase Dragic for a potential trade? Pure speculation, I know…but when the guy Bledsoe banged shins with did not miss a start while he continues to sit is a bit strange to me.

  • Dave:f32

    ….Oh HUSHPUPPY! I believe you said PJ was shutting down Lebron haha

    Just kidding.

  • HunterSThompson

    Watched Jahii Carson play for ASU last night. Do guards that small have any chance in today’s NBA as starters, or are they relegated to provide spark off the bench (ie. Isaiah Thomas)? Jahii really seems to know when to go in amongst the trees for a score and when to give it up to a teammate. Pretty wise for a sophomore…

  • Dave:f32

    Its a non-injury, i mean non-issue (Bledsoe`s “injury”) he will be back soon. They are seeing differences between he and Goran w/o having help from the other, stat-wise. Dont get ur panies in a bunch Lol ;)

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Hunter…. I speculated the same thing in a post a few days ago about how odd it seemed that a player could be out for so long with a “shin bruise”….agree with you…seems strange or PJ has the shin bones of a rhinoceros

    If a small guy could start in Today’s NBA it’s Jahii…only a shade behind Marcus Smart imo…maybe Sun Devils can get some National attention now that they beat Marquette & are 6-0 for the 1st time in about 30 years.

  • HunterSThompson

    Hawki – I think the Devils will get some attention for a couple of reasons on display last night: Jahii and Bachinski. A dynamic guard and a legit athletic center. Could be a fun year!

    Re: Bledsoe – did you hear the interview on 620 with Coach Horny 5 minutes ago?

    Doug Franz – “Coach, can you give us an update on Bledsoe?”

    Horny – (weird chuckle/laugh, pauses and lets out a breath) “Well, every day we think he is going to play. He goes out there in warmups and then comes back and tells us he can’t go. So, I guess it is day to day.”

    Does Bledsoe have an agent in his ear encouraging him to sit back and let his value (hopefully) increase? Is Eric himself intent on proving a point? Is he already unhappy playing beside Dragic? The way Horny made it sound this morning, the only guy who knows is Bledsoe himself….

  • DBreezy

    Foreveris,

    Assuming the trade goes through, looks like your man Derrick Williams is going to get a fresh start in Sacramento. He’ll certainly get more touches there, but I wonder how they’ll use him? His career numbers have been better at the 4 than the 3, like the Beas, but SAC has both of the 3′s on their roster coming off the bench.

  • DBreezy

    Hawki,

    When you look at the Jazz, a few things come to mind. One, they’re simply not as bad as they’re record. They suffer from two things, no pg and not much confidence as a team right now. That offense is every bit as pg-centric as most Suns’ offenses and they really haven’t had a good one since Williams was traded. Even with subpar players in the spot the last two seasons, they finished 8th and 10th in offensive efficiency. This year so far they’re dead last. Their points allowed are pretty much in line with what they’ve done the previous two seasons that resulted in much better records, but they’re only scoring 88ppg which is way down.

    Burke should eventually help them there and possibly in the confidence department too. When I watch them it only seems like Hayward and Kanter have any real confidence offensively and keeping young players’ spirits up definitely does not seem to be Corbin’s strength.

    He and Larry Drew seem to be the argument for why Alvin Gentry should not be coaching this current Suns team. All three teams are young, but top to bottom you could make the argument that Milwaukee and Utah have more talent than teams like the Suns and Sixers, yet they’ve been abysmal. Drew and Corbin did much better jobs when they had veteran guys, so while they may not be great coaches, they have shown that they can in fact coach. However guys like Brett Brown and Horny seem to have a much better touch with younger players.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Hunter….The Bledsoe mystery plot thickens…

    DBreezy….maybe Hornacek was more valuable to the Jazz than anyone knew….nice synopsis on Utah btw.

    ps….looks like the TWolves are trading Derrick Williams to Sacramento for Luc Mbah a Moute

  • Foreveris2long

    Ah a conspiracy theory regarding Bledsoe. Anything is possible these days with greedy agents attempting to place their client in the most favorable light, especially in a contract year I try to watch Bledsoe on the bench and he truly seems engaged with the success of his teammates so I do not think sitting longer is his idea unless he is truly hurt. I have never had a bone bruise so I do not know if two weeks is too long to heal but it does not strike me as being grossly unreasonable. Now if he is not back by this weekend someone like HAWKI, our eye in the sky, needs to get to the bottom of this.

    I will say this, leg injuries are tricky because they can cause a cumulative injury to the good leg if you think you are a 100% and you are not or you may be 100% physically but do not trust it and you overuse the good leg to its detriment. Hawki get your brief case, pocket protector and specs ready if he is not back this weekend.

    DBreezy, I saw that last night regarding D. Williams. I think the move to Sac town will benefit D. Williams because I think their offense is more open. In Minnesota Love, Martin and Rubio dominate the possessions. Three or four, I don’t know. I know you have always said he is a better four. My hope is Sac Town gives him a good look at the three where I still think he can become an everyday starter. However I admit he remains a big mystery at this point. I think Sac town needs more offense without compromising defense and Williams should give them a shot at that.

    I think VT tuned me into Amare’s comeback. Offensively he did not look too bad against Portland last night. I think he had 10 points and was 5 for 8 from the field in about 23 minutes. Defensively he looked bad but he looked bad on defense in Phoenix. I think both coaches in Phoenix and Portland are early choices for Coach of the Year. Collin the Herd this morning was talking about how tough the West is with 13 teams either 1 game below .500 or better, which to the surprise of most of us includes the Suns. Shoot we are .500 despite having been to San Antonio, Miami and OKC.

  • DBreezy

    Yeah Hawki, a pretty low risk trade for Sac. I think it’s fair to ask which was worse, Mia giving up on Beas or Min giving up on Williams. Beas’ personality make it more of a media story for him than Williams, but Williams has produced less and been out of the rotation more.

    I can’t imagine that there’s much to the Bledsoe situation, though I guess you never know. He’s quiet, but he seems like a pretty straightforward guy. At worst, maybe someone is telling him not to play for a lottery team in a contract year unless he’s 100%? Anything else seems out of character for his career so far, and would likely hurt his value not help it imo.

  • EBJM

    OK, so who was the COWARD that went off on Mel using my screen name? Sorry Mel, it wasn’t me.

    But in response to your original post Mel, it was actually a sincere question, as it seems several of us didn’t understand what it meant.

    Smovas? Are you stirring up more trouble for me again?

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Forever…. I’m dusting off my Sherlock Holmes costume as we speak.

  • vtsunrise

    Mystery resolved?

    Top Five Reasons Why Bledsoe is nursing his shinjury:

    5) The shinjury is still out.

    4) It’s all in his mind: A case of internal Bledding.

    3) Money for nothing, baby! And chicks for free.

    2) What a Dragic it is getting old…

    1) He’s Pacing himself.
    “Indiana Wants Me”
    WHAT!?

  • Smovas

    Sorry EBJM, you caught me again.

  • vtsunrise

    For the record, I thought Mel’s analogy made sense and I chose to “pass” because I didn’t know what the fuss was plus someone had already interpreted it.

    Let’s all settle down and enjoy this place, shall we? It’s not azc, but it’s kinda cool. And I can still eccentrically post random videos.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    VT…..This shin-sanity is killin me

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Mel Stottlemyre had a great sinkerball.

  • Smovas

    This is unfortunate. I was optimistic about this site and the family of AZC getting together again but someone is/has ruined it. Until VOTS can secure usernames, I won’t be posting anything on here. I won’t even respond to anyone that responds to this post. From here on out, if anything comes under my name, “Smovas”, it didn’t come from me; good, bad or indifferent. I’ll head over to BSOTS where you can secure your name and the moderators will be pretty quick to ban copycats.

    VOTS – you should block any and all content from anyone using Smovas as a name. And please, secure the integrity of the users by allowing people to be sole owners if their names.

    It was great seeing everybody. Good luck to everyone in the future. Especially Hawk and VT. Again, I had a great time hanging with you two. Thanks VT for picking up the bill.

    Late

  • Foreveris2long

    Everyone wants to be like EBJM.

  • vtsunrise

    See you, Smovas. Meeting in person was very special.

  • DBreezy

    See you Smov, hopefully the copycat stuff stops and without some type of FB system that has ruined AZC and other places.

  • DBreezy
  • Scott

    My take on the shin bit is that it’s just what it is: a bruised shin, and Bledsoe doesn’t feel like he’s got the strength in that leg to be explosive enough to justify taking someone else’s court time.

    I had a twisted ankle once that had me sore and limping for six months. Sometimes a routine injury doesn’t behave in a routine way.

  • BCrayZ

    This post of Kevin’s is not sufficient.

    Time to give Chinga (Channing Frye) some love.

    Ever so briefly, Kevin mentions that he was the leading scorer of the game for the Suns. What he failed to say is that he has led the team in scoring 2 of the last 3 games. Also, he has led the team in made 3 pointers in 2 out of the last 3. Some of you seem to think that he is a one-trick pony. That could not be further from the truth. Frye is the Suns best defender. Even after beginning this year out of shape because of doctors’ orders last year, he gave the team a meaningful 31 1/2 minutes last night, despite going for over 33 minutes the previous night of the back to back. What are “meaningful” minutes? He held the 2 men he was guarding (playing the 4 & the back up 5) to an average of only 2 for 7 shooting last night for an average of just 7 points each. He also led the team (with 3) in steals for the game. He has led the Suns in either steals or blocks in each of the 3 games on this road trip. Last night, his 7 defensive rebounds also led the team again. Much more important than this or that stat is his impact on the score board. Last night, he led the team by far with a (+/-) plus 8. That is right. When Frye was on the court (about 2/3 of the game), the Suns were beating the champion Heat on their own court, even on a back to back (with the Heat getting lots of rest) by an impressive 8 points vs. their starting “Big 3″ lineup. Had the rest of the Suns been as competitive, we would have won the game. Some will say that (+/-) is a product of the other 4 players that player plays with. Then why is he the only Suns player with a plus of some sort for each of the 3 games on this road trip? Gogi has also more than pulled his own weight on this trip. Still, he would be even more effective with a smart, fast guard to play with, particularly one who can stretch the floor, like the Brazilian Blur. Frye, Gogi & Barbosa have played well together, as members of “that killer bench unit” last time we were in the playoffs & beat the Spurs four games to zero. LB is rehabbing the ACL tear & will be able to play again soon. Suns roster still has one open spot. For just the veteran’s minimum salary, LB would be more than happy to come back & play here.

    MUST reunite “that killer bench unit.” Let’s go SUNS!!!!

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Smovas….Unfortunate turn of events,,,,catch ya periodically over at bsots

  • Foreveris2long

    Dbreezy, Thanks for the article. They are pretty brutal on Williams but the stats support their opinion so I would not consider it to be meritless bashing.

    I think if he fails with the Kings, he will run the risk of being labeled as a 9th or 10th guy on the bench for the rest of his career as the Kings have a wide open offense with not too many players dominating the ball. It is difficult to say it is now or never for someone 22 years old so I am going to refrain in that regard. It has taken Gerald Green until today to show he has a lot of game so there is hope.

    I will be the first to admit that to date to say that he has been a disappointment, would be an understatement.

  • DBreezy

    I was thinking about Frye today too, but mainly from the standpoint of could/should McD have convinced the Wolves to take him for Williams. Not that I have any interest in Williams, but because could have been a very nice backup frontcourt piece for the Wolves able to play alongside either Pek or Love. Sure it would have saved some cap space too, but more than anything I’m all about helping this year’s Wolves team make the playoffs.

  • DBreezy

    Foreveris,

    I don’t think it’s now nor never for Williams, but I do think he really needs to simplify some things going forward or he will be that 9th/10th you were speaking of. If you’ve seen any of SAC’s games then you know that DMC pretty much has zero help on the glass most nights. Williams can help there and obviously on D where the Kings need anything they can get. Much like Morii, he can also help himself by simply making open shots. It’s amazing that DMC even scores sometimes when he see the doubles and triples he gets. It looks like a grade school recess game of 21 out there a lot of times, but as long as no one else on that squad makes shots consistently the coverage won’t change. Hopefully Williams can do the simple things well first, and then find the confidence to explore some of the stuff that was most intriguing about him when he entered the league.

  • Bam

    I dont think Derrick Williams would work. His game is pretty inconsistent right now so much so that the main problem is his confidence.

    Back to the game though, pity i didnt have the chance to watch it at all since it’s now my exam period, so i’m stuck with watching highlights which basically translate to nothing of note most of the time considering the highlights generally dont show typical plays.