If only it was like this all the time.
That was Dwyane Wade’s wish as he thought about the three days off the Heat had before hosting Cleveland on Saturday night. The rest served him well, as he scored 24 points to help Miami to a 114-107 victory at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Wade hit the Cavaliers with 20 points in the first 18 minutes for his highest-scoring half of the season. He made his first six shots and was 9-for-15 overall.
The other components of the Big Three looked equally fresh for Miami. LeBron James scored a game-high 25 to go with nine rebounds, nine assists and four steals. Chris Bosh had 22 points and 11 rebounds.
The trio combined to shoot 28-of-44 from the field, including James’ 9-for-12, and Ray Allen chipped in 12 points off the bench.
“We all had our legs and we were flying around throughout the whole game,” James said. “You could tell by how we finished the game off that we had our legs.”
The break was particularly important to Wade, who has been limited by a knee problem.
“As much rest as he can get, it helps,” James said. “He’s been great. He’s been dealing with his knee and we all know that, but when he’s on the floor, he makes an impact.”
The Cavs charged back from a 19-point deficit early in the third quarter to pull within 84-40 at the end of it.
Cleveland reserve Matthew Dellavedova tied the game at 91 on a 3-pointer with 8:40 remaining, and the Cavaliers went ahead 95-91 on baskets by Jarrett Jack and Dion Waters.
The Cavaliers still were ahead 100-98 with 4:16 left, but Bosh tied it on a long jump shot and James scored on a drive the next possession to tilt control back to the Heat. Mario Chalmers put it away for good with a 3-pointer from the left corner with one second left on the shot clock to put Miami up 109-101 with 1:36 remaining.
“We got back on track and killed that momentum they had,” Bosh said.
In its first home game since a frustrating 2-2 Midwest road swing, Miami raced to a 35-29 lead at the end of the first quarter and was ahead 68-52 by halftime after hitting 65 percent from the floor. The points and shooting percentage set new team highs for a half.
The Heat (17-6) started slowly from 3-point range — except for backup forward Chris Andersen. He hit his first 3-pointer of the season at the beginning of the second quarter and elicited a huge roar from the crowd.
Andersen works on 3-pointers at the end of every practice and before games, but had only attempted two all season. He had not made one since last April at Cleveland.
James improved to 11-1 against his former team since joining the Heat in 2010. His return to Cleveland in 2010 was one of the most hostile environments Miami has encountered, but the subsequent rematches have been far less tense.
“It’s always weird going against your old team, but it’s not much of a special meaning,” said James, who grew up in Akron, Ohio, and spent the first seven years of his career with Cleveland.
His reunion with Cleveland coach Mike Brown was short-lived. Brown was ejected with 3:14 remaining in the second quarter when he received back-to-back technical fouls for arguing a non-call on Miami’s Shane Battier.
Battier came from behind to block a shot by Cavaliers forward Alonzo Gee, and Brown came onto the court to give the official his opinion.
“When you play them, you’re not going to get a lot of calls,” Brown said. “I lost it there.”
Miami had trouble containing point guard Kyrie Irving, who is on track to start alongside Wade for the Eastern Conference in the All-Star Game. Irving had nine points in the first quarter and ended with 19 to help the Cavaliers (9-14) become just the seventh team to break 100 points against Miami this season.
Gee, a former Dwyer High School standout, had a modest performance with 10 points and five rebounds.
Miami’s win over the Cavaliers opened a five-game homestand that continues Monday against Utah. That game will be a tune-up for Wednesday’s highly anticipated rematch with Indiana.