The Miami Heat are integrating newcomer Ray Allen into the fold by practicing late game situations requiring a game winner from the sharpshooter. In the meantime, Heat fans are recovering from yet another head-scratcher where the Heat were thoroughly outplayed by a lesser team that had no business being close to beating the NBA Champions on their home floor.
The San Antonio Spurs players not named Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson hung around all game and constantly out-hustled their way to what appeared to be a stunning victory to cap off their six-game road trip.
Down by seven with less than five minutes to go, Ray Allen and LeBron James led the charge just like they did against a Cleveland Cavaliers team missing star player Kyrie Irving. Following the same script as their last game where Allen exploded for 15 fourth quarter points, Allen again hit a triple (his only one of the game) after another pinpoint pass from LeBron James.
But why did it even get to that point? The Spurs appear to have plenty of depth and this was certainly not a case of bringing out an overmatched squad that were just going to roll over for the home team. Many of these players such as Tiago Splitter and Boris Diaw have plenty of international experience in their careers as well. They out-rebounded the Heat by 8 and hit twice as many three-pointers as well, a continuing trend of Heat opponents burning the slow-footed perimeter defenders with timely treys. Four of the Spurs starters as well as reserve Gary Neal hit double-figures in scoring reinforces the fact that the Heat defense still needs plenty of improvement.
Soon enough these problems on both sides of the floor won't be able to get conveniently swept under the rug to be dealt with another time once the Heat do start losing and possibly go on a winless streak. There is no question that the Heat are playing down to their opponents but they do find ways to pull out victories and admittedly this is a good thing to figure out early in the season, especially when Ray Allen has been such a blessing to have this season.
Rashard Lewis started in the place of the injured Shane Battier and his only contribution offensively was a corner three early in the game. Udonis Haslem continues to earn more important minutes, even replacing Chris Bosh in crunch time for a brief period and then playing next to him with Mario Chalmers taking a seat. Norris Cole had a decent game off the bench for the Heat, showing a bit more patience with the ball and finishing with 8 points on an efficient 4-9 from the field. Wade closed with 19 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists but was shaky through long stretches of the game, especially in the first half where he missed some easy shots, though he only had one turnover tonight.
The Heat played well at first but a 17-4 Spurs run ended the first quarter. Not even a LeBron 3-point attempt after a hot start could stop the bleeding with theHeat missing 8 of their last 9 shots of the opening quarter. The two teams continued to go back and forth for the rest of the game exchanging several lead changes in the process. The Spurs ultimately went cold from the field and allowed the Heat to close the game with an 8-2 run to keep their home record perfect.
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