Unlike the horrid performances Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh put up on Sunday against the L.A. Clippers (12-37 shooting), the duo improved to a 15-24 shooting game Tuesday night. The only problem is that they faced the second best team in the NBA, the San Antonio Spurs (43-8). Without Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, the Spurs' younger stars, Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge led their team to a skilled 119-101 domination in Miami.
Contrary to the final result, the Heat kept up with the 2014 NBA champions for the majority of the first half. In fact, they led the Spurs 24-20 after the first quarter behind a concentrated effort from the starting lineup. Miami got their first look at the new-look Spurs led by off-season acquisition LaMarcus Aldridge and probably didn't want to see him again. The 30-year-old torched the Heat in the second quarter, going for 12 points on a series of easy buckets in the paint and finished with 16 points in the first two quarters. Despite Wade's perfect first half with 10 points (5-5 FG shooting) and four assists, the Heat trailed 57-54 at the half.
⚡️ Alert! pic.twitter.com/8zvFYfuDls— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) February 10, 2016
Wade continued the hot shooting in the third quarter, reaching seven shots without a miss before the fun sizzled away. The Spurs would take command of the game and the Heat would falter quickly. Powered by a 12-3 run, the Spurs gained momentum and kept the Heat from scoring for over two-and-a-half minutes. In the meantime, it felt as if the Spurs were scoring on each play with Leonard and Aldridge punishing the Heat in the paint. Gerald Green provided some life support at the end of the quarter with back-to-back three-pointers but the Heat were down 85-75 heading into the fourth.
After another Gerald Green jumper a couple minutes into the fourth, the game would turn upside down for the Heat in just two plays. First, Patty Mills hit a three-pointer while getting fouled and made the free-throw to get the rare four-point conversion. Worse than that, Whiteside got tangled up while gearing for a rebound with Boban Marjanovic and elbowed the Spurs big man, resulting in a Flagrant 2 and immediate ejection.
Hassan Whiteside was ejected for this https://t.co/KZlN2G1uzH— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 10, 2016
The elbow didn't just hurt Marjanovic but stung Heat Nation as well. An esteemed product of the Heat, Hassan Whiteside has seen his career flourish in Miami. Growing through last season's scuffles - aimless altercations with Alex Len and Kelly Olynyk - the center was thought to have put that all behind him and focus on his future.
From there, the Spurs ran the Heat right out of their own arena. Late buckets from Wade and Bosh weren't enough as the Spurs increased the lead to as much as 24. Giving up the most points all season long to an opponent at home, the Heat soon got crushed 119-101 at the hands of the second best team in the NBA.
Wade led the Heat with 20 points and five assists on 9-12 shooting. Bosh finished with 18 points and five rebounds but suffered a season high seven turnovers, his most in a game in over four years. Whiteside had 14 points, six rebounds and two blocks before getting ejected and Dragic finished with a fair 10 points and six assists.
Aldridge led the way for the Spurs, finishing with 28 points on 10-16 shooting. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Leonard, was right behind him with 23 points, nine rebounds and three steals on 11-17 shooting. Danny Green contributed as well, posting 15 points, seven rebounds and three steals.
Despite shooting a higher percentage (57.1%) than the Spurs (52.8%), the Heat were limited to 19 less shots (89-70). Defensively the Spurs out-rebounded the Heat (43-31) and forced 17 turnovers, a figure they Heat have been trying to cut down on.
The Heat head into All-Star break with a lot of questions still left on their board. Last season, Pat Riley pulled the trigger and brought in Dragic while surrendering a few players and draft picks. The future of Whiteside now remains up in the air along with Chris Andersen, Josh McRoberts, Luol Deng and more who have been linked to several trade rumors. The Heat have been good, sitting at fifth in the Eastern confrence but as highlighted tonight, cannot keep up with the league's best teams. The trade deadline is Feb. 18 at 3:00 P.M.
Bosh and Wade will take part in this weekend's All-Star game in Toronto on Sunday @ 8:00 P.M. Bosh will also be in the three-point competition Saturday night as the lone big man particpating.
Miami will get the next 10 days off and be back in action against the Atlanta Hawks on Feb. 19 @ 8:00 P.M.