LeBron not too worried about latest Heat loss
MIAMI -- LeBron James seemed to take Wednesday's loss about as hard as he did one earlier this fall to New Orleans.
That would be an October preseason defeat to the Hornets.
James' Heat lost, 97-95, to the Golden State Warriors at AmericanAirlines Arena, their third defeat in five games. In previous Heat seasons, such a slump would have led the national media to descend upon Miami, including the National Enquirer and TMZ.
But James' attitude Wednesday was from the Alfred E. Neuman school: "What, me worry?"
James, though, might not get much flak for shrugging off a home loss. That's what winning a championship last season can do.
As has been well-chronicled, the Heat came back regularly when the odds were stacked against them last spring. So perhaps that's why James isn't getting too bent out of shape about losing a game on a layup with 0.9 of a second left by a rookie forward who entered the game with a 2.5 scoring average.
In fact, the first thing James did when the buzzer sounded was head straight for Draymond Green to offer congratulations.
"He played hard," James said of Green, whose shot came after a missed defensive assignment by Heat forward Shane Battier, who left Green too early to double team Klay Thompson, who had burned the Heat for 27 points. "It was great competition out there between me and him. I've respected him."
While Miami guard Dwyane Wade said the Warriors "shouldn't have beat us" and coach Erik Spoelstra lamented that his team hasn't taken advantage of all its recent practice time at home, James seemed to have little concern about the defeat.
"We played a great basketball game," James, who scored a game-high 31 points. "It just so happened they made one more play than us. … Sometimes you don't win all the games when we play well. I don't think we took a step back. … We're 14-6, second in (the Eastern) Conference. We're not mad about the situation we're in. We're good."
Actually, the Heat hardly played "great." They committed 18 turnovers and continued to have problems with opponents hitting three-pointers as the Warriors were 9-of-23 (39.1 percent) from the beyond the arc.
But James might not want to rock the boat too much because he knows how resilient the Heat were last spring during their title run and it is only December. Perhaps James also doesn't want to make it seem he's calling out any teammates who aren't stepping up. James does not shy away from criticizing his own play, but there's little to be critical about that these days since he never has a bad game.
"I've been in a nice rhythm for about two years now," said James, who has scored 20 or more points in 41 straight playoff and regular-season games.
That rhythm wasn't affected when James went down hard on his right shoulder following a second-quarter Flagrant 1 foul by Warriors forward David Lee. James had his shoulder wrapped in ice after the game but declared it's "automatic" he will play Saturday against Washington.
Also banged up Wednesday was Wade, knocked out with a neck strain late in the second quarter when he collided with Thompson and teammate Mario Chalmers. Wade, who was called by Golden State coach Mark Jackson before the game the third-best shooting guard in NBA history after Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, was able to return for the second half and seemed much more bothered after the game about the loss than with his health.
"You never want to lose at home," said Wade, whose team has dropped two in a row at AmericanAirlines Arena after having won eight straight to start the season. "As an athlete, you never want to lose period, but especially at home. So it's tough to lose this one, especially when we should have won it."
So that raises the question: How much should the Heat be worried?
The answer is: not a tremendous amount, but more than James is concerned.
The frustrating part for Spoelstra is this was the period the Heat were supposed to show great improvement. When they returned home Nov. 18 after a six-game trip, they began a 4 1/2-week stretch of 10 of 11 games at home with lots of days to practice.
"It's an inordinate amount of time that we spend here at home, and we should be able to take advantage of that," Spoelstra said. "We haven't done it quite the way we'd like to."
No, they haven't. Even before losing three of their last five, the Heat needed late-game escapes to beat overmatched Milwaukee and Cleveland and a San Antonio team that had sent stars Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker home to rest.
But on Wednesday, the Heat lost even though they were the more rested team. The Warriors (15-7) concluded their first 5-0 trip since 1978-79.
"We're showing people that we're going to bring it every night this year," Thompson said of the team that is the NBA's biggest early-season surprise. "We got a chance to be special."
The Heat as a team aren't bringing it every night this season. James is, but he's not ready to point any fingers.
Miami showed last season the ability to deliver when it counts. James no doubt is expecting that to continue.
But stay tuned for the playoffs. If the Heat lose a home game, don't expect James to be talking about how they played "great basketball."
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson