Heat forward LeBron James took a forearm to the throat from Bobcats forward Josh McRoberts during the final minute of Miami’s 101-97 victory in Game 2 on Wednesday.
The Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Houston Rockets 112-105 on Wednesday to take a 2-0 series lead. Game 3 is set for Portland’s Moda Center on Friday.
• LaMarcus Aldridge did it again. One of the most persistent criticisms of LaMarcus Aldridge during his eight-year career has been that he over-relies on his mid-range jumper at the expense of his low-post game. His 6-foot-11, long-armed frame and athletic tools make him a tough cover on the block, but he has never apologized for his perimeter approach, whether he’s lining up a straight-on look from the elbow or spinning into a baseline turnaround.
After scoring 46 points and grabbing 18 rebounds in Game 1, Aldridge nearly matched the feat in Game 2, pouring in a game-high 43 points (on 18-for-28 shooting) and grabbing eight rebounds. In doing so, he became the first player since then-Cavaliers forward LeBron James to score 40+ points in consecutive playoff games (May 2009), and Elias Sports notes that he joins Michael Jordan and Tracy McGrady as the only players to go for 40+ points in Games 1 and 2 on the road. Aldridge now holds the No. 1 spot (Game 1) and No. 3 spot (Game 2) on the Blazers’ all-time postseason scoring list, and he is the only player in franchise history to top 40 points in two different playoff games.
“These two games here are as well as I’ve seen him play,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said, and the entire world nodded in agreement.
After putting a scare in the Spurs with their Game 1 defense, the Mavs ramped up their efforts on both ends Wednesday to rout the defending Western Conference champions 113-92 and even their series 1-1. The fourth-quarter letdown never came; Dallas hasn’t had the best track record in terms of maintaining leads this season, but a surge in the opening minutes of the final quarter kept San Antonio on its heels and its stars on the bench for good. Monta Ellis led all Maverick scorers with 21 points, though his performance was only part of a well-balanced outing that saw four other teammates finish in double figures as well.
• The best team in the Western Conference was upstaged completely. This was a thorough beatdown, executed by a No.8 seed with talent, guile and top-to-bottom intelligence. The improbability of the event seemed lost on the Mavericks, who maintained the same defensive game plan that nearly stole Game 1 and succeeded wildly for it. We expected Gregg Popovich to have his team better and more specifically prepared for Game 2, as is standard operating procedure with these Spurs. Instead San Antonio’s players lost sight of any tactical adjustment and wandered blindly in a perfect haze of switches and hedges.
Charlotte challenged Miami until the end of Game 2, but the Heat’s Big Three combined to make critical plays at both ends and pull out a 101-97 win. LeBron James scored 32 points, while Chris Bosh added 20 after a lackluster Game 1. The Heat now head to Charlotte with a 2-0 series lead.
• Miami found a formula that works against one of the league’s top defenses. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra preaches “Pace and space,” to his team, a slogan he uses to encourage his players to attack with ferocity and tempo while also spreading out. Miami knows it can get superlative offensive play from its Big Three as it did in Game 2 almost any night — LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh combined to score 67 of Miami’s 101 points — but unlike early in the Big Three era, the offensive stagnation and pressing that often crept in has given way to an offense that’s more patient and and open.
The Pacers attempted to clarify, and in some cases disputed, a reported practice fight involving Lance Stephenson and Evan Turner.