Both teams traded baskets down the stretch but the home team was the victim of a series of confounding missed calls by the referees at crucial parts of the game. Nets rookie big man Mason Plumlee swatted away a driving shot by Chris Bosh that was clearly a goaltend which turned into a five-point swing after a Marcus Thornton corner 3.
Furthermore, LeBron was fouled twice - if not three times - in the final seconds on a potentially game-winning dunk. First on a blatant reach-in foul by Joe Johnson, that would have been called at any other point in the game, that hit LeBron across the forearm. Then Plumlee used his off-arm to contain LeBron while hitting him in the hand he's using to try to dunk. While Plumlee did get some of the ball, this would likely have been called if it wasn't for the fact that it would swing the outcome of the game either way and none of the refs had the guts to call it.
While I'm not one to blame refs for a Heat loss, these plays - especially the goaltend on Bosh - were fairly obvious calls that had a profound effect on a game that was ultimately decided by a single point.
But in fairness, the Heat never took control of the game on either side of the court despite several opportunities and never reached any semblance of a continuous offensive flow in any of the four quarters aside from the occasional scoring run. This is on the team and coach Erik Spoelstra, not on the referees.
Yes, they were without Dwyane Wade for a seventh game due to a hamstring injury but Spoelstra decided to keep Michael Beasley - one of the few players on the bench that can create his own shot and has the ability to score in bunches - on the bench. James Jones has been shooting well lately when given the opportunity but he also was not used for this game.
Udonis Haslem (stomach virus) was replaced by Shane Battier in the starting lineup but he was ineffective on offense with just one early 3-pointer to his name, though he did have some decent defensive sequences. Norris Cole and Rashard Lewis combined for 19 points off the bench, but Birdman was uncharacteristically sloppy with the ball and was unable to convert around the basket as he usually does. At one point, he failed to dunk at the rim point-blank when he didn't have enough lift in his jump. Perhaps it would be wise to rest him at some point before the postseason (he was a game-time decision tonight too).
The Nets' depth showed tonight as different players took turns hurting the Heat. Johnson hit tough shots all night on the way to 19 points. Paul Pierce came on strong in the end, with one corner 3-point shot that seriously wounded the Heat late in the game. Mirza Teletovic tormented the Heat once again this season with his efficient offense. Thornton came off the bench to score 16 points in 28 minutes on 6-8 shooting.
The Heat must pick up the pieces and hit the road where they face a tough test against the Memphis Grizzlies tomorrow night. The idle Indiana Pacers have a much easier task at hand when they face the last-place Milwaukee Bucks. Miami is only half a game ahead of them with one fewer game in the loss column.