PHILADELPHIA -- A three-game losing streak produced plenty of chatter around the two-time defending champion Miami Heat over the past week.
But none of the talk was more critical than the discussions players had among themselves recently.
“Nobody took anything personally,” Heat center Chris Bosh said. “We were able to have the conversations that we needed to have.”
Bosh insisted Friday night that none of those heart-to-hearts included him demanding the ball along with more of a featured role to help the Heat try to emerge from their longest losing streak of the season.
For Bosh, that was a topic no longer worth mentioning.
It had to be about actions far more than words. And Bosh made a resounding statement on the court in carrying the Heat to a 101-86 victory against the Philadelphia 76ers. For the second straight game, Bosh emerged from the offensive shadows of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to lead Miami in scoring, this time rounding out 25 points with six rebounds, four assists and a season-high five blocks in 33 minutes.
Over the past two games, Bosh has scored 51 points on 37 shot attempts. It was only the second time this season he has scored at least 20 points in consecutive games, and the field goal attempts are his second-highest total in any two-game stretch this season.
That recent spike in production isn't the result of Bosh demanding more opportunities. Instead, he insists it’s the product of doing more with the opportunities he gets.
“I’m not a selfish guy. I’m not going to come in and say, ‘Well (give me the ball),” Bosh said after Friday’s game. “I feel that is on me. I can dictate how aggressive I’m going to be. I’m not going to look to Coach or anyone else to help me be aggressive. We have an open-style offense and everybody gets equal opportunities when we’re moving it around. So when I get my chance, I need to be aggressive and make plays. If not, kick it to the next guy and he’ll do his job.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said the team has been running more “actions” within the offense through Bosh the past two games. But more than anything, Bosh has been creating his own touches by looking to attack when he gets the ball in his comfort zone on the perimeter and also inside the paint.
“We’re still not going to be a call team,” Spoelstra said about generating specific plays and moments in games for Bosh to operate. “But there definitely were some actions where the ball would find him and he knew what to do with it. He was very decisive with it. If he had a couple of more catches, he probably would have had over 30 (points). But he’s been consistent on both ends all season long. He’s been terrific, and it’s good to see him play in a real confident, aggressive flow.”
That flow had been evident in certain stages throughout the past few seasons, mostly when either James or Wade would miss games with injuries or for rest. It’s been rare when Bosh has led the Heat in scoring and shot attempts when the team has the full complement of the Big Three on the court.
But with Wade struggling the past two games and James looking for help from a supporting cast that has been in a collective slump the past week, Bosh has stepped to the forefront. That emergence began in the second half of Wednesday’s game against Washington, with Bosh finishing with 26 points on 10-of-19 shooting from the field to go with seven rebounds. But that performance was overshadowed by an overall dismal effort from the Heat, who trailed by 34 points midway through the 114-97 loss.
Bosh’s aggressiveness continued early into Friday’s game, largely because Wade got into early foul trouble and had just two points in the first half. Meanwhile, James only attempted six shots in the first half as he dealt with a sore left shoulder. Wade, who celebrated his 32nd birthday Friday, ended up with just eight points in 25 minutes and said afterward he would not play in the second game of the back-to-back set on Saturday in Charlotte, presumably to rest his sore knees.
James, however, did eventually get into a groove and had 21 points, 10 assists and 8 rebounds against the 76ers. But he said Bosh’s early boost set the tone on both ends for the Heat, who are battling mental and physical fatigue amid a stretch in which they play 11 of 14 games on the road.
“CB is always the recipient of just being open,” James said of Bosh. “Guys tend to forget about him and he just gets to his comfort level of 15 to 17 feet. When he rolls, he’s doing a little bit of everything now.”
Bosh, who is averaging 15.7 points on less than 12 shots per game this season, said he’s no longer looking to gradually settle into games. He’s found an approach that has allowed him to have a greater impact.
“That’s what I've really been trying to do, be aggressive early because No. 6 (James) and No. 3 (Wade), once they get loose and get going, they’re going to do their jobs,” Bosh said.
“Early on, I felt I could come out and establish myself, kind of catch guys off guard. I’ve just been trying to mix it up, my aggression, just seeing what works. I’ll continue to do it until I see that it doesn't give us much success.”
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