Heat ready to hit road, put frustrating loss to Mavericks behind them
MIAMI — What could have been a career night for Hassan Whiteside and a rousing home victory ahead of an important road trip instead turned into a nightmare for the Miami Heat in their 93-72 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Friday.
They had built up a 16-point lead before Dallas blitzed them with a 37-2 run in the second half for their first win against Miami in eight games since the 2011 NBA Finals. The suddenness of the disastrous second half — where they shot 11-for-37 (29.7 percent) while allowing 60 points — left Heat players with a loss for words afterward.
"I don’t have any words to explain it," said Whiteside, who was the team’s lone bright spot with 16 points and 24 rebounds, including 14 in the first quarter to set a franchise record. "It’s tough, it’s crazy. I’m speechless, really."
"I don’t know what to say," Mario Chalmers said. "We missed a lot of shots we normally make, and once you miss those shots and they hit 3s like they were, it is tough to stay in the game."
The offensive onslaught with the Mavericks suddenly red-hot from the field and the Heat unable to either limit them or keep up with them was too much to bear over the course of the second half. For a team trying to overcome a poor shooting night from just about every player, including All-Star Chris Bosh, while also coping with the absence of starters Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng, it was almost an inevitable outcome.
"Sometimes it just goes quick with us," said head coach Erik Spoelstra, who shouldered some of the blame for not re-inserting Whiteside quicker to help stem the tide. "Timeouts or rotations, you can’t change it or stop it. We were defending and playing with incredible toughness in the first half, and it started out with the beginning of the third quarter, the turnovers, the missed shots and easy baskets the other way.
"That just kind of allowed them to hang around and get some rhythm, the layups and the clean looks. From there we just couldn’t get the ball into the basket and they kept on scoring."
With their 15th loss in 23 home games, the Heat just might be looking forward to hitting the road for their weeklong four-game trip that will feature games against the Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, Minnesota Timberwolves and the San Antonio Spurs.
Spoelstra, for his part, sounded eager to put this loss to the Mavericks behind them and in their rearview mirror on the way out of Miami.
"I wish we could play that game (against the Celtics) tomorrow," he said. "I wish we could fly up (to Boston) and play tomorrow night and lace them up and get back after it. I think that it would be the best thing for us is to get right back to competition and not dwell on this."
Miami’s road record of 12-11 brings with it at least some hope that they can pull out wins against the Celtics and the Pistons to keep those two teams at bay in the standings below them. Though playing the Spurs at home will be quite a challenge, they’ll also face the Timberwolves, who own the worst record in the NBA and are one of six teams with a worse home record than the Heat.
After such a tough loss, Bosh knows this next stretch of games will be important to establish something positive for a team facing plenty of hardships.
"I don’t think we have to get ourselves psyched up, we need those games," he said. "Those were probably some of the games that we would drop and would be tough to get up for before. Now the only tough part is being shorthanded. It’s the nature of the beast. You have to be able to dish it and take it."
The Heat have certainly been taking their lumps this season from NBA teams accustomed to losing to them in the Big 3 era. The question remains as to when — or if — they will respond in kind.