The Miami Heat's impressive win over the Orlando Magic Saturday may have made Heat fans forget about the team's anemic play against the New Orleans Hornets Dec. 25. And then the 8-22 Brooklyn Nets rolled into Miami for a game Miami should have easily won.
And for a while, it seemed like that. The Heat closed the first half well, and led by 16 points early in the third quarter. But the Nets flipped the script, dominating the second half to go up by 10 midway through the fourth quarter. The Heat scrambled late to win the game in the closing minutes, but fell 111-105 in one of the most disappointing losses of the season.
After scoring 58 points in the first half, the Heat's offense fell flat, and Wayne Ellington killed Miami from downtown on the other end of the court. This game served as a microcosm for this Heat team -- while Miami has a good amount of talent, which can look good when the players are humming, the pieces don't fit. The Heat cannot consistently muster the offense to play as a contender.
Dwyane Wade scored 17 points in the first half, but didn't score his first points of the second half until the fourth quarter. Goran Dragic didn't get on the scoreboard until he made a 3 midway through the second quarter. And when Gerald Green isn't hitting his shot, Miami has no offense from the bench. He shot just 2-of-11 tonight, and it showed.
Justise Winslow sat out the game with a sprained ankle he suffered against the Magic. Tyler Johnson also returned Monday night after a lengthy absence, but shot just 1-of-6 from the field. Beno Udrih shot just 1-of-5 from the field, and Winslow's absence actually led Erik Spoelstra to turn to Amar'e Stoudemire. The former Phoenix Sun missed a few point-blank shots, and one has to wonder why Spoelstra hasn't turned to Chris Andersen yet.
On the plus side, Chris Bosh contributed 24 points and 12 rebounds. Bosh and Wade went a perfect 9-for-9 from the field in a good first half. The 6-foot-11 Heat player missed a key free throw with 49 seconds left that could have pulled Miami to within 99-103. Hassan Whiteside added 18 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks. He showed good effort tonight, slamming home a put-back on one end before diving for a loose ball on the other end in one first-quarter sequence.
Still, larger issues for this team remain. It's a bad sign when Bosh can make five 3s in a game, and the Heat still lose at home to the Nets. Pat Riley may have to reassess whether this Dragic/Wade backcourt is the best fit. Winslow's absence showed how the Heat badly need another wing player. Udonis Haslem is on the roster for his legacy with the Heat and mentorship, but why does this team have Stoudemire, Andersen and Jarnell Stokes in his era? And has anyone noticed that Josh McRoberts has barely done anything in a Heat uniform since 2014?
The Heat will wrap up a four-games-in-five-nights set against the Memphis Grizzlies tomorrow at 8 p.m.