Cleveland fans booed mercilessly. They held up signs that read "Quitness" and "Liar Baby Jerk." ESPN's Bill Simmons said LeBron James and the Heat just wouldn't be ready for the heavy doses of venom they would receive from the Cavaliers fans. It was going to be an ugly, raucous atmosphere that the Heat players wouldn't be able to withstand, withering and cowering in the angry noise. And then the game started. And LeBron scored 38 points. And Miami routed Cleveland 118-90 in a game that was over by halftime. And that was it for that.
The Heat-hating media will call this an irrelevant win against a weak opponent 18-games into the season. Unless of course the Heat had lost, in which case it would've been the greatest upset in the history of the National Basketball Association. Oh Heat-hating media, you're incorrigible.
Amidst a sea of relentless offensive chants and that so-called fan venom, James took and made his first jumper at the 10:41 mark in the first quarter, and never looked back. As expected, the boos rained down from the 20,562 Cavalier faithful in attendance at the Quicken Loans Arena every time he touched the ball. But LeBron wasn't fazed. Even as fans chanted "Akron hates you," James torched the Cleveland defense, going 15-for-25 on his way to a season-high 38 points -- ten more than the entire Cavaliers starting lineup combined.
Dwayne Wade, meanwhile, added 22 points, while Chris Bosh scored 15. James Jones went 5-for-7 from the three point line for 18.
Cleveland took an early 17-12 lead in the first, giving the angry fans something to go wild about. But then James led the Heat on a 16-0 run, capped by a reverse layup with Cavs defenders draped all over him. Miami took a 19-17 lead, and extended that to a 19-point lead at the half.
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The third quarter was all LeBron. James went on a 10-for-12 tear, scoring 24 in the quarter, and helping the Heat take a 30 point lead that iced the game early. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra sat James for the entirety of the fourth quarter.
After that, all Cavs fans could do was get into bitter drunken brawls in the stands and chant "Scottie Pippen" at James. Because nothing zings a guy better than chanting the name of one of the 50-greatest NBA players of all time at him (PWND!)
Could this be the galvanizing win the Heat have been looking for all season? The win that finally propels them to steamroll over the rest of the NBA as so many predicted they would when the Big Three came together? Who knows. All we know for sure is that the Heat-hating media can suck it. And also that LeBron James and the Heat responded in a huge way after a tumultuous week. But mostly, that the Heat-hating media can suck it.