Flawed roster is at the heart of Heat's woes

Published Nov. 24, 2010 11:43 p.m. ET

On Wednesday night, the Miami Heat's problem wasn't Erik Spoelstra. It wasn't fun, or the process, or discipline. Not Chris Bosh or Dwyane Wade or LeBron James.

It was the roster.

The Miami Heat's flawed roster allowed Jameer Nelson to do his best Rajon Rondo impression. It allowed Dwight Howard to be a force that ultimately couldn't be overcome.

It was the reason the Heat came up short, even though they played the right way - very much so, actually - in the second half.

They will be talking about Spoelstra and his ever-warming seat by now, but Pat Riley's focus must be on giving whoever coaches this team in 2011- whether it's him, his young protege or someone else - the personnel to deal with what happened in Orlando's 104-95 win.

"One thing I know we did tonight, we competed," James said. "We showed a sense of urgency. And we had fun, we played at a high level tonight. You can be satisfied with that."

Even if he's still harping on the having fun - and he shouldn't be - LeBron's right about playing at a high level, at least for a half.

Chris Bosh, with a pained back, attacked with a furor. He put up 21 points and had 6 rebounds, but more importantly he played with heart, a ferocity he will need to summon for the rest of the season.

Wade, these past three games as cold as he's ever been, got hot enough to finish with 18 points. He had seven rebounds and five assists and seemed to have a vigor his team has needed for a long time.

Even James, who had 25 points and 6 rebounds but failed to close late, held his head high in the locker room.

Except for the head coach, who looked as if he indeed is feeling the pressure, this Heat team carried itself with a certain pride after this loss, even if its record stands at 8-7, something simply unthinkable weeks ago.

And rightfully so.

They knew. Unlike against Memphis, or Toronto, or the Pacers, they knew this time was different.

The following words did not escape Wade's lips on those nights: "This team played very well."

But they did Wednesday.

There were a lot of reasons Miami ended up losing. LeBron did not close. The Heat missed six straight shots late in the game.

Nelson looked way too much like point guards - Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, Rondo, Tony Parker - he simply is not in the same league as.

On Wednesday, Nelson was a fine player gorging himself on a team still without the right people. Howard, with 24 points and 18 rebounds, was a fantastic player gorging on a team lacking size.

Miami has no tough guy to grab that extra rebound, no point guard to nullify someone who should not so shape the arc of such a game, no fix to what is neither Spoelstra's fault nor LeBron's. The problem is the players Riley has surrounded the Big Three with.

"We had (that intensity)," James said. "We showed what we're capable of doing. That doesn't always result in a win. This league has great players and great teams and it doesn't always result in a win. But you can't look at our effort tonight and say, 'Oh those guys didn't go out there and play.'"

No, you can't. But what can be said is this: They went out there, they played a great second half, and it wasn't enough. The holes in this team have been exposed, and the roster needs more than patience.

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