With six minutes left Sunday night, three faces looked quite familiar.
So did the situation.
There they were, the Heat’s three All-Stars, in a tight contest with a collective chance to close out.
Yet, this time, Erik Spoelstra had sent out Carmelo Anthony and Kyrie Irving, rather than Shane Battier and Ray Allen, with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
And, this time, unlike so many times this season, his team couldn’t complete the task.
The West pulled away during the next four minutes, ultimately winning 143-138, with Kobe Bryant’s swat of a James jump shot — leading to a Kevin Durant dunk — serving as one of the exhibition’s few signature moments. Later, with the outcome essentially decided, Bryant hassled James down the court and blocked his drive.
It was that sort of the night for the Heat’s talented triumvirate, after Miami became the first team since the 1989-90 Lakers to have three All-Star starters.
Wade posted the most solid stat line of the trio, with 21 points on 10-of-13 shooting as well as seven assists, though he didn’t score in the closing stretch. James, who started the game at point guard and the second half at small forward (as Irving replaced Kevin Garnett in the starting lineup), recorded 19 points but on 7-of-18 shooting, a less efficient performance than in all but one outing (Portland) over the course of the Heat’s season so far.
But it was Bosh who had the toughest time, shooting airballs from three different distances in the first half and getting crossed over by Tony Parker — and groping helplessly as game MVP Chris Paul dribbled the ball through his legs. Bosh finished with six points and two rebounds.
Paul had 20 points, 15 assists and four steals, edging Durant (30 points) in the voting.
Here was the good news for James, Wade and Bosh: