The sense of giddiness following Tuesday's victory over the Phoenix Suns evaporated quickly, as it was likely to do. The Miami Heat have dealt with some brutal scheduling, perhaps nothing worse than having a back-to-back set where they travel to the high altitudes of Denver, a difficult place to play under any circumstances.
They were also shorthanded, as Josh McRoberts sat out the game with an injured knee. Justin Hamilton made his first NBA start in his place.
The game began poorly, with Denver looking energized on their way to a 12-4 start. Chris Bosh (finishing with a team-leading 14 points) led the comeback effort, and a Norris Cole layup tied the game at 17. The Nuggets scored with ease at the rim and like most Heat opponents shot a blistering percentage. Arron Afflalo (16 points) and Wilson Chandler (17 points) led all scorers.
But some hot shooting from Shawne Williams in a reserve role helped Miami keep the pace and a buzzer-beating jumper by Luol Deng tied the game at 48 at the end of the half.
At some point during halftime, the Heat simply dozed off in the locker room and refused to wake up.
An 11-2 run by Denver to start the 3rd quarter was an obvious sign that this Miami team wouldn't - or couldn't - remain competitive. Shots at the rim caromed off, wide-open jumpers missed their mark, passes were overthrown and defense was simply a rumor. The third period ended with Denver up 79-62 and the Heat shooting just 26 percent (5-of-19) in the quarter.
The lead ballooned up to 27 at some point in the fourth quarter, which was played merely as a formality because of some stupid rule made up by that Canadian mastermind, James Naismith. The Heat took a stand against our neighbors to the north and refused to be active participants in the last 12 minutes of "action." Head coach Erik Spoelstra mysteriously chose to leave Bosh (struggling through a 5-of-12 shooting night) and Dwyane Wade (10 points on 4-of-kabillion shooting) in the game...perhaps hanging onto hope that they'd accidentally score late in the game as they fell asleep in the luxurious pillow of Kenneth Faried's glorious hair. No such luck.
Instead, what masochistic Heat fans stayed awake to watch the whole game were treated to the corpse of Danny Granger consistently falling short on almost every shot he took and the birth of the Hassan Whiteside era, who went 3-for-3 in garbage time played against Denver's mascot, Rocky, and four patrons from the local cannabis bar.
There was nothing positive to take from the game, no glimmer of hope to help ease the loss. Instead, we just have to stay satisfied in knowing that this loss was due to some tough scheduling (wait until it's revealed that NBA commissioner Adam Silver is actually Rich Paul in disguise...) and that there's always the possibility that Miami can win against the Utah Jazz on Friday.
Although this is unlikely, my #sourcez tell me that Pat Riley is considering waiving Granger and signing Rocky. Next stop, PLAYOFFS!