The Miami Heat returned home after their 3-1 road trip to face the Golden State Warriors and their five-game winning streak at the AmericanAirlines Arena was promptly snapped after Stephen Curry led the way with 36 points and 12 assists for the 123-114 win.
The Warriors were the last Western Conference team to win in Miami back on December 12, 2012 and they did it again with an aggressive barrage of three-pointers from Curry (8-15) and Klay Thompson (4-9), who closed with 16 points. While their bench did little aside from Harrison Barnes (15 points) and Draymond Green (7 rebounds), their starters combined for 98 points and David Lee punished the Heat from the inside right from the beginning with nine points in the first three minutes, closing with 32 points and 14 rebounds.
It's now three home losses for the Heat in their first 17 games of the season at the AA Arena and they have allowed their opponents to score an average of 114 points per game. By contrast, the Heat only had four home losses for the entire 2012-13 season.
Most frustrating for the Heat on this night is that they had several chances to catch up to the Warriors late in the fourth quarter, despite how well the visiting team shot for the entire night. The team missed several shots by the basket and suffered through surprisingly sloppy play. LeBron James had a nice stat line of 26 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists but disappointed with an uncharacteristic eight turnovers, some of which were unforced. He also missed two key free throws that could have made it a one-possession game in crunch time. Dwyane Wade knocked down two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and had 22 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds but also missed out on some easy baskets through bad luck and sloppiness, including a missed dunk in the second half that was uncontested.
Mario Chalmers (17 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists) continued his strong play from the road trip and Shane Battier had 11 points on improved long-range shooting. Chris Bosh started strong but cooled off in the second half to close with 19 points but only 4 rebounds in 34 minutes.
The Heat's bench also contributed little, with Ray Allen struggling with a quiet 1-4 shooting night and none of the reserves scoring more than seven points, courtesy of Norris Cole who impressed simply because he was playing after suffering a facial injury against the Denver Nuggets.
But the Warriors were simply the better team tonight, with their shooting off-the-charts from the beginning. The team began the game making nine of their first ten shots in the first six minutes of the game and blitzed the Heat with 38 first quarter points on an astounding 79% shooting (15-19 FGs and 5-6 from long range).
Miami stayed in the game with some hot shooting of their own and forcing six turnovers in the first quarter. The champs shot 55% with 4-7 shooting from beyond the arc. Incredibly, the Heat briefly had the lead in the second quarter even while Golden State was shooting over 70% in the game. That lead was short-lived as the Warriors went on a quick 7-0 run and began expanding on that lead into the second half.
The Warriors then went on a 9-0 run in the third quarter to build up their lead to double digits in the third quarter. By the start of the fourth quarter, the Warriors were still shooting 57% from the field but the Heat started to chip away at the lead with a 6-0 run for yet another thrilling finish in store for Heat fans.
Unfortunately, the defending champs could not execute down the stretch like they had done so well during their road trip and the Warriors would soon erase any chance at a miraculous comeback.