Heat Check: Mario Chalmers steps up to help Miami end skid
On the road for a second night of a back-to-back with three important players missing, the Miami Heat pushed through a slow first half to defeat the Brooklyn Nets 95-83 on Monday night.
With Dwyane Wade sitting for a third straight game to rest his sore hamstring, Luol Deng (sore wrist) and Josh McRoberts (blister) were also ruled out. Choosing to not alter his second unit, coach Erik Spoelstra instead gave Danny Granger his first minutes of the season by starting him in place of Deng. Predictably, the Heat struggled to connect early on with their fourth different starting lineup, and the Nets made them pay.
Miami struggled at the start of the second quarter with seven missed field goals in a row but stormed back with a 10-2 run on the strength of rookies Shabazz Napier, James Ennis and Andre Dawkins. The Heat missed their first seven 3-point attempts of the game but then hit their next three straight to keep pace with the Nets despite shooting 37 percent for the first half.
Despite Chris Bosh again struggling from the field and battling foul trouble, the Heat were better on defense in the second half and were able to make adjustments to better close out the Nets' long-range shooters. Deron Williams (14 points, seven assists), Jarrett Jack (15 points) and Bojan Bogdanovic (22 points) kept the Nets close, but it wasn't enough to counter the Heat's suddenly hot offense.
To snap their three-game losing streak, the Heat needed quality production from their reserves and they got it, with 37 bench points. Bosh (15 points, nine rebounds) came through during crunch time with a timely 3-pointer with less than two minutes left in the game to close the door on the Nets and open a double-digit lead.
THE TURNING POINT
Brooklyn made their push late in the fourth quarter and closed to within four points, but Chalmers responded with a jumper and then drew an offensive foul on Jack. On the next play, he got Williams to foul him with the shot clock winding down for a trip to the foul line to boost the lead to eight.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER
Miami's point-guard trio stepped up offensively with Wade missing. Napier had 11 points and Norris Cole added 12, and the duo combined for 6 assists. But it was Mario Chalmers who led the team with 22 points and five assists. He was aggressive right from the start with 11 free throws on a career-high 13 attempts.
STAT OF THE GAME
After struggling to post 38 points in the first half, the Heat exploded with 32 points in the third quarter. The last time Miami had scored 30 or more points in a quarter was in their loss against the Houston Rockets on Nov. 4.
The Heat will host the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday at 8 p.m.