A: LeBron James to Dwyane Wade game-winning inbounds lobThe Miami Heat really, really should have lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves, which is one of those phrases that you expect never to think, much less write. But it's true: rookie point guard Ricky Rubio's 12-point, 12-assist effort kept Minnesota in it until the very end, and a careless LeBron James turnover on a critical late possession gave Minnesota multiple chances to steal their only game against the Heat this season.
Instead, order was restored by an absolutely brilliant play design from coach Erik Spoelstra. Miami set up a sideline inbounds play out of a timeout, using James as the inbounder. Miami ran two players to the near corner to pull Minnesota's defense away from the middle of the court and then ran guard Dwyane Wade on a looping pattern using a high screen from forward Chris Bosh to free himself. James then threw the lob pass to a suddenly open Wade, who did well to catch it from behind his body and finish a lay-up smoothly in one motion, as the Timberwolves defense tried, too late, to contest his shot. Final score: Miami 103-101. Can't draw it up any better than that.
A: Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls
You'll rarely see two teams play harder than the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Clippers did during the third quarter on Friday night, when bodies were flying all over the court on both ends. Chris Paul and Derrick Rose went tit-for-tat, blow-for-blow throughout, and DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin finished more dunks than anyone could keep track of. But the Bulls, led by Rose, remained their steady selves, down the stretch, pulling out a 114-101 win at Staples Center. Rose finished with a ridiculous 29 points on just 14 shots, adding 16 assists on top of that. Elite, elite, elite play. Paul was excellent; Rose was on a different level.
B: Boston Celtics and Paul Pierce's returnIt must have felt nice for the Boston Celtics to enjoy a return to normalcy. After a dismal 0-3 start to the season in All-Star forward Paul Pierce's absence, Boston got its first win of the year by thumping the pathetic Detroit Pistons at home, 96-85. Pierce wasn't dominant, finishing with 12 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists in just 23 minutes, but the contribution was much needed.
C: Indiana Pacers
The Indiana Pacers remained undefeated on the season, improving to 3-0 on Friday night, but it took overtime and a gift from the Gods to make sure it happened. Indiana struggled to shoot all night, finishing just 36-for-94 from the field and a pitiful 2-for-10 from deep. The Cleveland Cavaliers, one of the league's weakest sisters, were almost exactly as terrible (34-for-88 overall and 5-for-25 from deep) but one Cavaliers miss swung this in Indiana's favor. Rookie guard Kyrie Irving made a beautiful series of moves to free himself near the rim on the final possession of regulation, staring at a point blank lay-up that would have given Cleveland a thrilling buzzer-beating victory. Instead, Irving, who finished with 20 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists, saw his attempt rim out, forced to hold his head in disbelief. The Pacers slammed the door, winning overtime 14-7, to seal the 98-91 victory. But, Indiana: you're better than all that.
D: New Orleans Hornets' bricklayingThe Phoenix Suns have had a rough start to the 2011-2012 season but they got an elixir for their ills in the New Orleans Hornets' bricklaying. Minus guard Eric Gordon, who didn't play because of a knee bruise, the Hornets starting backcourt of Jarrett Jack and Marco Belinelli combined to shoot 9-for-33. The starting frontcourt of Trevor Ariza and Carl Landry was only barely better, at 8-for-27. In fact, not a single one of the 12 Hornets who played shot 50 percent or better. The final damage: 26-for-90. Unreal.
F: Chris Bosh's ridiculous passOh, Chris Bosh. Just when you were starting to look invincible and slightly more likeable you had to pull us back in. The following blooper brings plenty of unintentional comedy. Bosh, working near the three-point line, hesitates to pass the ball to center Joel Anthony, who decides to move away and set a pick for a teammate. With Anthony's head turned, Bosh decides to fire a pass to him, which richochets hard off his back and out of bounds. Bosh doubles down on the hilarity by giving Anthony a death stare, pointing at his own eyes as if to say, "Watch for the pass." Sorry, man. That one was on you.
Here's the video.