There is one rule in championship basketball -- the team that scores more points wins.
We learn all about space and pace, "the system," teamwork, sacrifice, etc. At the end of the game none of that matters, because the loser scores less points.
In the Miami Heat's 90-77 loss to the Charlotte Hornets, they attempted more field goals, 81 to 74, had a better FG%, 37% to 35%, more assists, 19 to 13, more steals, 9 to 7, less turnovers, 14 to 16, blocked more shots, 4 to 1. In other words, they statistically played a superior team game and better defense, but still lost by double digits. Why? They did not finish what they started on the offensive side by getting the ball through the hoop.
Scoring only 31 points in the second half continues the trend of last season, when the Heat just couldn't buy a basket in the third quarters of crucial losses. Catching Charlotte on the second half of a back-to-back, with Al Jefferson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist out, the Heat still could only muster 77 points.
Watching the game, the ball-handling was crisp, defense was tenacious, and the assists were beautiful.
Really a great team effort all-around that makes the coach gush about team effort and learning the system. In the end though, the shooting wasn't good enough to win the game.
Not just 3-point experts like Ray Allen or James Jones, but talented scorers like Michael Beasley were released due to defensive deficiencies. What's left now is a team that has the makings of one of top defensive teams in the NBA that could have a possible Defensive Player of the Year in Hassan Whiteside and a Sixth Man of the Year with Josh McRoberts.
The only skill that needs improving is developing reliable shooting strokes, as exhibited by Michael Jordan whose jersey hangs in American Airlines Arena because of his scoring prowess. Nifty passing and solid defense are key ingredients to championships, but scoring more points than the other team when the final buzzer sounds is the only way to win games.