What Happened Last Night: The Patriots And Heat Reminded Everyone They’re Still The Patriots And Heat
Welcome to another edition of "What Happened Last Night?" Quite a bit of action to get to, but I'll start with that Monday Night Football game, because let's face it, odds are that was what you cared about the most. So time to give the people what they want:
The Pats messed with Texas.
Marquee matchup, that Monday night showdown between the Patriots and Texans. On the one hand, the Patriots are typically strong (9-3 heading into last night), at home, and on a roll (six straight wins going into Monday). On the other, the Texans have been on a roll nearly all season (11-1 before last night), and if anyone could slow down a Tom-Brady-led offense, wouldn't it be a defense led by J.J. Watt, who's sacking quarterbacks at a prodigious rate, and batting down seemingly every one of their passes when he doesn't get to them? What more could you want from a game?
Well, a non-blowout, for one thing. Because as good as the matchup looked on paper, the Patriots quickly went about shredding that paper - and the Texans' defense, cruising to a 42-14 win. Tom Brady did most of the damage, throwing for 296 yards and four touchdowns (no picks)... and all this just days after he and his wife blessed another human life with their combined genetic makeup. Good week for Tom. That Texans defense? It sacked Brady just once (though Watt registered three QB hits), and forced one turnover - an interception by Ryan Mallett after the game was so out of hand that the Pats pulled Brady.
And the Texans' offense didn't fare much better, considering they produced just one score before garbage time. At least Matt Schaub didn't butt fumble. We can't write the Texans off based on this one game, but it's safe to say: when they're good, they're really good. And considering their other loss was a blowout in which the Packers torched them in a similar fashion to the Pats last night, when they're bad, they're really bad. And you'd be hard-pressed the find someone who doesn't think the Pats are the team to beat in the AFC now.
The Heat look more Heat-like now.
It was just a couple games ago that the Heat were looking especially vulnerable, coming off a baffling loss to the Wizards and a more understandable but still troubling blowout at the hands on the Knicks. Their team defense wasn't anywhere near where it was last year. Their Ray-Allen-led strategy of stocking the team with shooters at the expense of any traditional big men was looking more questionable. It was early in the season and the team's record (12-5) was still good, but it was fair to wonder: will these Heat, as presently constructed, be able to find that extra gear they'll need to beat top teams in the playoffs?
Consider their last two games an attempt to answer that question. The first, a 106-90 win over the Hornets, was a positive step, but it was still a Hornets team playing without either of their franchise building blocks. You can only prove so much against a team like that. Last night, though, the Heat vanquished the previously-12-5 (and essentially full-strength) Hawks 101-92. They held Atlanta to 42.7 percent shooting (32.1 percent from three) while shooting over 58 percent themselves.
And the Heat's biggest stars? They played exactly the way they needed to for the Heat to fulfill their potential (i.e. win another title). LeBron had 27 points (10-16 shooting), seven rebounds, and six assists, and Dwyane Wade had the best shooting night (from the field) of his career, finishing with 26 points on 11-for-13 shooting. Also, LeBron jumped real high and said Charles Barkley needs to shut up. LeBron can do a lot of things. Silencing Sir Charles? Not one of them.
Around the Association...
The Spurs needed overtime to beat the James-Harden-less Rockets, but got the job done thanks to a Tony Parker triple-double (27/12/12). Notably, in Harden's absence, a certain point guard picked up the scoring slack for Houston and matched his career high with 38 points. Linsanity is (sort of) back! Meanwhile, Blazers-Raptors featured insanity of a different sort: the Blazers shot 20 threes and missed every single one. You see a stat like that, you probably wonder how badly they got blown out. The answer is, they lost by negative-18. Yes, they won. And it wasn't even close. I'm not even a Raptors fan, and I feel an intense sadness.
Oh, and there were other games - the Mavs blew out the Kings, the Warriors bested the Bobcats, and the Sixers got the better of the Pistons. Forgive me for a lack of enthusiasm re: those matchups, not to mention lack of clever ending to this pot. Hope you understand. Have fun today, everyone.
Photos via Getty
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