James’ Rebounding Sparks Heat Over Wolves
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Miami Heat walked into Target Center with a big problem over the previous two games — they had been dominated on the glass.
That was two games too many for LeBron James.
The reigning NBA MVP had 21 points, eight assists and 14 boards for his first double-digit rebounding game of the season, leading the Heat to a 103-82 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night.
Dwyane Wade had 19 points and five rebounds in his return from a two-game absence and the Heat controlled the glass until garbage time after getting hammered on the boards by Detroit and Chicago in consecutive losses. James’ 14 boards were the most he’s had for the Heat in a regular season game.
The Wolves shot a franchise-low 29.3 percent while the Heat made 55 percent of their shots to overcome 20 turnovers.
The Heat haven’t lost three in a row in the regular season since January 2012. And James wasn’t about to revisit that slide.
The Heat were bludgeoned on the boards 49-27 by the Bulls on Wednesday night and 46-34 by the Pistons on Tuesday night. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra spoke on Saturday morning of needing all five players on the floor to attack the glass because they don’t have a singular rebounding force like the Wolves do.
Despite having to go to the bench earlier than usual with two fouls in the first quarter, James still managed to rack up 10 rebounds before the first half was over. He posted his highest regular-season rebounding total since his last season in Cleveland, when he grabbed 16 against Sacramento on Dec. 23, 2009.
Minnesota just barely won the rebounding battle, 45-44. But the Heat won on the defensive glass, 37-28.
The night was punctuated in the third quarter when Wade threw a pass off the glass to a soaring James for a 71-57 lead.
Wade missed the previous two games, first with knee soreness and then because of an illness. He suffered a scare in the first quarter when he appeared to bang his right knee as he crashed to the court. He writhed in pain for a few minutes, but was able to get up and keep going.
The Heat play at Detroit on Sunday, but it wasn’t certain that Wade would play. Spoelstra likes to rest him on back-to-backs to reduce the wear and tear on his knees.
Minnesota point guard Ricky Rubio struggled mightily with one point on 0-for-4 shooting, six assists and six turnovers.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.