The Miami Heat put together a tremendous effort against the defending world champions but ultimately couldn't match the Golden State Warriors and their multitude of offensive weapons in the fourth quarter to lose 111-103 on Monday night.
Dwyane Wade was a question mark for the game with a shoulder injury and had struggled in his last game, but he filled up the box score with 16 points, 11 assists and six rebounds despite struggling with his shooting. Miami kept it close largely through the efforts of several players including Gerald Green with 15 points off the bench and Chris Bosh had a strong first half with 13 points on 6-11 shooting in the first half, taking advantage of his quickness against the slower Andrew Bogut. Unfortunately, he didn't have the same impact in the second half and finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Miami had their moments during an impressive first half with a quicker lineup featuring Justise Winslow in the starting lineup and Bosh replacing Hassan Whiteside (out with knee tendinitis) as the starting center. They were able to limit the Warriors' most potent offensive weapon with their 3-point shooting early on in a very entertaining game from start to finish.
Both teams shot 46% from the field in the first half and the Heat actually notched more team assists (17) than the Warriors (13). With neither team shooting particularly well from long range, the Heat scored 24 first half points in the paint and the Warriors had 26 points in the point.
Though the Warriors and Stephen Curry weren't knocking their long range jumpers with regularity (both teams missed nine of their first 12 3-point shot attempts), they were getting a lot of mileage early on from Draymond Green's pick and roll action to attack the rim. That strategy shifted to maximize their hot shooting in the second half, when Golden State jumped out to pad their lead with 8-2 runs to start both the third and fourth quarters with some hot shooting.
Golden State finally opened up their first double-digit lead midway through the third quarter but the Heat promptly sliced that in half after a perfect backdoor play out of a timeout between Wade and Tyler Johnson (who was a valuable member of the rotation with his quickness) and a Gerald Green 3-pointer. With Curry (who led all scorers with 31 points), Draymond Green and Klay Thompson proving to be a handful for the Heat's defense, the rest of the team showcased their depth as reserves Harrison Barnes and Marreese Speights providing timely contributions. The Warriors would eventually open up their biggest lead of the night at 92-81 with eight minutes left in the game.
Thanks to a Deng 3-pointer, however, the Heat managed to cut the deficit to just six with less than three minutes left in the game, but the Warriors hit two baskets in a row after calling a timeout to boost their lead back to 10.
The Heat again cut it again to six with 45 seconds left but Curry iced the game with a three to improve their home record to 18-0.
Though they came up short, the Heat have to be encouraged with their improved play despite now dropping three of their last four games. Playing without Whiteside against this particular team wasn't as big of a blow as it may have seemed, since it was debatable how much impact he would have had tonight, but the fact of the matter is that the Heat were still outscored 23-5 in fast break points and failed to get back on defense quick enough to stop the Warriors' relentless attack. Still, six players reached double-figures in scoring and this effort would have likely been enough to beat most NBA teams on any given night. In any case, a loss is a loss regardless of any supposed moral victory here and they will next face the Los Angeles Clippers potentially without Whiteside again as they continue their road trip.