With all his might, LeBron James was trying to tug the rest of the Heat up the slippery, massive mountain. That wasn't any sort of stunner. We have seen it before, including once in this building, roughly 10 months ago.
Yet, as he ran the offense on one end and banged with the beefier Al Jefferson on the other, something was significantly different.
Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade were sitting.
Not injured. Not unavailable. And still, sitting.
They were sitting because Erik Spoelstra had made one of the bolder decisions in his five seasons as the Heat's head coach, riding out the first 11-plus minutes of the fourth quarter with a lineup of James, Joel Anthony, Rashard Lewis, Ray Allen and Mario Chalmers. Spoelstra had his reasons, since he had been searching for some group, any group, to provide an energy solution in Energy Solutions Arena, and that lineup had cut a 19-point lead all the way to two.
Still, as often occurs, and even more so in altitude, that group got gassed, and couldn't complete the comeback in a 104-97 loss to Utah.
Bosh played the final 40 seconds, with the outcome essentially assured, allowing a pass to slip through his hands for a turnover before sinking a meaningless jumper. Wade didn't play in the fourth quarter at all.
Spoelstra acknowledged that, on the flight to San Francisco, he might rethink his decision to stay with the unusual combination so long — Lewis had played a total of 22 minutes since Dec. 10, and played a season-high 27 in this one. But Spoelstra didn't back down from the choice of sitting two stars, at least in the middle of the fourth quarter, in favor of a quintet that "seemed to have enough pep in their step."
Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh watch fourth quarter as Miami Heat fall 104-97 to Utah Jazz
Palm Beach Post | Jan 15