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Struggling Heat find better offense but forget to play defense, lose again

Mar 9, 2011, 12:18 AM EDT

Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Miami Heat Getty Images

Since roughly last July, Heat fans have been asking — for the last week begging — to get LeBron James and Dwyane Wade active in the offense at the same time. They needed that long-promised spark.

Tuesday night — in a game were the Heat clearly were gripping at times and playing their stars big minutes — Miami pulled out a rarely used play that worked very well: the LeBron/Wade pick and roll. Miami used it a number of times and there was some spark to their usually stagnant half-court sets.

The result was a Heat team that shot better than normal (51 percent), had 48 points in the paint, and scored 114.3 points per 100 possessions (4 points above their season average). Wade had 38 points (on 21 shots as he attacked and got to the line 14 times) LeBron had 31 (on 20 shots).

The only problem — the Heat forgot to play defense, too.

The improved motion in the Heat offense paled in comparison to the varied actions of the Portland sets. Sets that the Heat struggled mightily to defend.

The result was a Blazers team that scored 125 points per 100 possessions (22 points above what the Heat normally give up). That led to a 105-96 Portland win.

That’s the Heat’s fifth straight loss, with the Lakers — winners of 8 in a row — up next on Thursday.

Wade and James played well, but Bosh had just seven points on 3-of-11 shooting. After the game a clearly frustrated Bosh said he didn’t like where he was getting the ball, that plays were not called for him to get the rock isolated on the low block where he is most comfortable. And with Wade and LeBron on the roster Bosh is also clearly not comfortable demanding the ball in games. He needs to start. Mario Chalmers added 10 points for the Heat.

The Blazers bench — Gerald Wallace, Brandon Roy and Rudy Fernandez — outscored the Heat bench 41-8. The Heat’s depth remains an issue.

But Miami’s usually stout defense was the biggest problem against Portland. The Blazers had 42 points in the paint and more importantly dominated the Heat on the glass. Portland, with its motion offense, was getting looks it liked where it liked. LaMarcus Aldridge had 26, Gerald Wallace had his best game since the trade from Charlotte with 22, and six Blazers total were in double figures.

Give the Blazers credit, they came out playing more like the team that needed the win. They earned this, the Heat did not completely give it away.

But the Heat are not playing up to potential.

Miami is clearly struggling, and internally freaking out a little. As Wade told NBC’s Ira Winderman earlier, they thought this would be easier. But if that feeling of panic causes them to struggle on defense, this streak of bad play is going to extend out much longer than it needs to.

  1. downtowndanny - Mar 9, 2011 at 12:31 AM

    If Bosh can’t demand more of the ball, why the hell does he even play? The squeaky wheel gets the grease. His teammates might even respect him more, even if I don’t. Miami isn’t a team yet, they’ve gotten to where they are in the standings clearly on individual talent. If Wade could do it over, I bet he would be in Chicago right now. Lebrons Cleveland teams were better than this new Heat team. I
    They will right the ship, Coach Spo will be out a week after they lose in the playoffs, Doc Rivers will get this team to the ECF. Lebron needs to lose the entourage and Wade needs to find independent management asap. and Bosh, well he needs to drive down to Mexico and buy some cohones…..

  2. dnbajunkie - Mar 9, 2011 at 12:32 AM

    Basketball, like any other sports requires mental toughness and not just skills to succeed. Right now, the Heat is missing the former ingredient and appears to be entertaining doubts on themselves. It shows on their franchise players’ body language and the bench feels it too. They have too regroup and build momentum going onto the post season so it carries over into the playoffs. Otherwise, most teams will see them as vulnerable and could prove disastrous.

  3. goforthanddie - Mar 9, 2011 at 4:14 AM

    Are you serious? An offense that produces 27 points out of 8 players is “better”? You say they have no bench; they can’t even make it to the bench. LePunk and Wade have a hard enough time sharing the rock, when’s Bosh supposed to “demand” anything from them?
    Miami just needs to accept it isn’t a well-put-together team. Good job mortgaging the future Riley.

  4. hnirobert3 - Mar 9, 2011 at 7:31 AM

    Spoelstra was experimenting last night with new lineups and matchups (not just because Bibby is still new to the team), which is concerning because we’re 60 games into the season. I’d rather they do this now and take the losses while figuring out where the pieces will fit come playoff time than wing it in the playoffs.

  5. savocabol1 - Mar 9, 2011 at 8:00 AM

    The Heat just lost their 21st game of the year. The Cavs lost 21 TOTAL games last year. Hats off to Lebron for making a great “decision.”

    • hnirobert3 - Mar 9, 2011 at 8:54 AM

      Apples to oranges. This team has been together for 6 months. That Cavs team, the core, had been together for 3-4 seasons.

      • andyhr17 - Mar 9, 2011 at 1:03 PM

        You mean the core that included stars such as Delonte West, Anthony Parker, Mo Williams Zydrunas Ilgauskas? The Heat have 3 All-Stars on their team. They’ve been playing together now for 64 games and they still play like they’ve never played a game together. The difference between the teams is now games played together, it’s the fact that the Cavs had a team of role players who filled specific niches. The Heat have 3 teary eyed “me first” players, only one basketball to play with, a group of junior varsity players on the bench, and a coach who is in way over his head who can’t manage all of the egos.

  6. davidly - Mar 9, 2011 at 8:23 AM

    I ain’ gonna Bosh-bash; rather, it seems to me that he needs to be a rebounder and defensive player first. Maybe he needs to be a sixth man. At any rate, they don’t need him to be shooting under forty percent.
    And therein lies the dilemma:
    How could a guy like Pat Riley have thought that you would want a starting three who would average over 70 percent of your offense?

    • mickdamill - Mar 9, 2011 at 9:42 AM

      Agreed, Bosh needs to create his own points off rebounds and hustle plays. Great players will reward you if you running the court and snagging boards. You can’t expect this team to run many plays for you when Wade and LBJ are on the court.

  7. omniusprime - Mar 9, 2011 at 9:35 AM

    Queen James once again failed to play defense and as we all know Defense wins championships. That’s why the Heatstroke will not fare well this postseason as they show that all they want to do is score but not play defense. Also shows what a pathetic excuse for an NBA coach Spoiled Sport Spoelstra is as he has no clue how to fix the slumping Heatstroke. The South Beach Crybabies had better break out the extra large, extra absorbent crying towels Thursday night as the Lakers are going to hand them a brutal whipping out behind the shed. Had to laugh how Kevin McHale and Chris Webber made crying jokes as it became obvious Miami would lose last night.

  8. chargerdillon - Mar 9, 2011 at 12:13 PM

    I can understand if people dont like Wade, Bosh, or James because of the move they pulled together which ultimately is blowing up in their face. But in being real and being a true basketball fan, next to watching the Lakers there isn’t a single more exciting team in all of the NBA to watch. These guys go in shifts where they absolutely dumptruck teams early in a game and let off the gas which there is no excuse for, but they absolutely have the ability to blow out teams altogether when they get in a rhythm.

    Lebron is still one of the most amazing players to watch, when he wants to take over. Wade is equally as impressive. Bosh reminds me of a guy who was probably dominant in college and average in the pros. He’s consistently trying to be the BIG man of this team and he just does not have the physical tools to do so.

    I never liked Lebron until everybody started hating him as much as they do now. Rings or not, if you want to watch an amazing player in the NBA you start with Lebron. Hate on him all you want, but I for one love to watch him and the Heat play and i think the potential for the heat with a few upgrades to their bench in perimeter shooting and a center will make this team a champion in a few years.

    • mickdamill - Mar 9, 2011 at 12:32 PM

      As much as everyone hates the Heat now, just wait until they start winning games and the band wagon will be full again. You seem like an average, typical nba sheep by saying Lakers and Heat are the best teams to watch.

      I dont know about everyone else but try watching teams like the Bulls and Thunder, those games are much more exciting than the Heat and Lakers games. Young teams like these play their hearts out everynight and dont let the media interfere with their gameplay.

  9. chargerdillon - Mar 9, 2011 at 12:56 PM

    Now that the Thunder have Perkins I feel they make a more complete team worth watching and I definitely agree they bring an exciting brand of basketball.

    As far as the Bulls go, I’m a major Bulls hater, and they have a good team thats fun to watch, but I will never root for the Bulls. The only time I want to watch the Bulls is to see them lose.

    As a married man who doesnt get to watch every basketball game on TV I’ll take the teams that are going to give me the best highlights as opposed to the best games. I wait for the best games in the playoffs which is a mini-season in itself. If that makes me a typical nba sheep then so be it

  10. okcalltheway - Mar 9, 2011 at 4:16 PM

    LOL.. everyone talking the heats struggles and noone seems to say anything about a team that really scares me, the blazers.
    as an OKC fan i could see them popping up into 5th (tied at the moment) and would hate to play this team first round.. heat this and heat that.. their team consists of 3 guys that want to be #1 options and a bunch of players that shouldnt get 15+ minutes in a game.

    as an OKC fan i give credit where credit is due and Nate McMillian has this team playing at a very high level and is no pushover.. maybe theyre the better TEAM and not the heat?
    goodluck portland fans, could be quite a sleeper

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