The Starting Lineup: Why Did The Heat Lose Last Night?

Let’s play a little game, shall we? The game is called, Why Did The Heat Lose Last Night?

A) LeBron James choked.
B) Jamaal Tinsley is god.
C) They couldn’t get a rebound.

If you chose letter A, kill yourself.  If you chose letter B, you’re wrong, but you’re alright with me.  If you chose letter C, you are correct!  The Heat, who trailed the Jazz by as many as 18 in the fourth quarter, clawed their way to within two points but ultimately fell 104-97 because they were unable to secure loose basketballs.  Despite winning the fourth quarter 32-20, the Heat were out-rebounded 13-6.  And it was actually worse than that.  How, you ask?  Well, you see, in their struggles to gather rebounds the Heat fouled the Jazz numerous times (I’m seeing three loose-ball fouls in the play-by-play, but it seemed like more than that).  This not only allowed the Jazz to maintain possession of the ball following missed shots, but put them in the penalty early in the period.  Eleven of Utah’s last 20 were scored from the foul line and six were second-chance points.  Miami should’ve won this game — LeBron (32/4/6) was an angry beast down the stretch, and Utah’s offense evaporated — but they simply made matters too challenging by repeatedly failing to corral defensive boards.  The Jazz scored four field goals in the entire fourth quarter whilst allowing 32 points; there’s no way their lead would’ve held up had they not completely dominated an alternate facet of the game.

As I suggested with my little game, the Heat being unable to rebound the basketball is nothing new.  So, what can they do to solve the problem?  Well… this won’t happen, but I’d explore trade opportunities involving Dwyane Wade.  Like I said, it won’t happen, so there’s really no point in discussing it… but I don’t believe Wade is vital to the team’s success.  Ultimately, this is an issue that the Heat will continue not to address as they simply hope to overcome it by virtue of being super-talented.

Mighty fine move by Gordon Hayward to free himself for the short jump shot that assured a Jazz victory.  Hayward scored three of Utah’s four fourth-quarter field goals and finished the game with 22 points.

Break up the Wizards! Having clobbered Orlando 120-91, Washington has now won three games in a row.  John Wall finished with 12 points and 6 assists in 20 minutes off the bench, turning heads and dropping jaws as he dropped an invisible banana peel underneath the feet of Ish Smith, who’d humiliated him earlier in the game.

Sweet, sweet revenge.

The box score from any game in which the Wizards score 120 points is going to be pretty weird, of course, but the weirdest of all the weird has to be Jan Vesely’s line, which features 10 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and a steal.  To make matters even more weird, Vesely actually had an impact on the game by scoring six consecutive Wizards points in the first half.  That’s correct: a 6-0 Vesely run is something that actually happened in an NBA basketball game.  In other weirdness, AJ Price dropped 18 points.

Before I move on from the Washington Weirdos, John Wall did something in this game that really stood out to me: Unguarded, Wall caught the ball at the top of the key with an opportunity to step into a wide-open three-point shot.  Instead, he hesitated before driving the ball straight ahead into the chest of a defender.  The Wizards were called for three seconds.  John really needs to be able to knock that jumper down in the flow of the offense.

Things that happened in Atlanta’s loss to Chicago:

  • First and foremost, the Bulls scored 97 points.  The Hawks scored 58.  Do the math.
  • The Hawks scored FIVE points in the second quarter and TWENTY points in the first half.  Neither of those are NBA futility records, but it was the Hawks’ second-worst half of the shot-clock era.
  • Ivan Johnson scored a driving layup with 2:54 to go in the first quarter.  The Hawks missed their next 17 shots, failing to score until Al Horford finally stopped the bleeding with a layup at the 5:15 mark of the second quarter.  That’s 9 minutes and 39 seconds of bucketlessness.  Clearly, the Atlanta Hawks have a vendetta against Kentucky Fried Chicken.
  • Of the Hawks’ 14 turnovers, 8 came during their aforementioned scoring drought.  There were five bad passes, one shot clock violation, one backcourt violation, and one lost ball.  To their credit, they did manage to avoid traveling.
  • Mike Scott led the Hawks in scoring with 10 points.  Never heard of Mike Scott?  That’s understandable, as he is averaging just seven minutes per game in 14 appearances.
  • Ivan Johnson had his shot blocked three times in five minutes of playing time.  The Hawks had their shots blocked a total of 13 times in the game.
  • The Bulls had more rebounds (59) than the Hawks had points (58).  I’m done.

As horrific as it was, a loss is but a single loss no matter the final score.  There are 82 games in an NBA season and not all of them are going to be pretty.  That said, this is an indication of the direction in which the Hawks have been traveling ever since December ended.  Having lost seven of their last nine, the Hawks are plummeting towards the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff picture.  They’re now just a single game ahead of seventh-place Boston, and having played the league’s easiest schedule so far they’re going to have to turn it around against teams that are better than the ones they’ve been losing to.

Thomas Robinson and Dion Waiters had the best outings of their respective NBA careers as the Kings beat the Cavaliers 124-118.  In Monday’s most competitive game, Waiters carried the Cavs with a career-high 33 points on 12-18 from the floor.  Unfortunately, I can’t really hype the performance in good faith.  While 33 points on 18 shots are absolutely impressive under any NBA circumstances, it’s no coincidence that random people continue to have career games against the Kings (Mario Chalmers’ 34 points, for instance).  Their defense is downright dreadful; often laughable, even.

As for Thomas Robinson… he matched a career high with 12 points, but it was his work on the offensive glass that really impacted the game.  Of T-Rob’s seven rebounds, four came at the offensive end.  That may seem unremarkable given the fact that he played nearly 28 minutes, but let me assure you that he’d have had many more rebounds had he been credited for every loose ball he tipped to a teammate or batted out of bounds off of a Cleveland Cavalier.  If none of that knocks your socks off, there was this:

Robinson has generally been pretty underwhelming this season, but one thing I’ll say for him is this: his hustle has been unwavering.  Despite a range of experiences that could understandably cause a young man’s spirit to become suppressed, Robinson has been unwilling to allow his struggles to get the best of him.  While his underdeveloped skill set has indeed been disappointing, his efforts to do whatever it is he’s capable of to help the Kings win ball games has been exactly the opposite.

No Chris Paul?  No problem. Despite the absence of their best player, the Clippers made easy work of the Grizzlies (99-73).  Eric Bledsoe filled in effectively with 14 points, 4 assists, and 2 steals while Matt Barnes and Jamal Crawford combined to score 32.  It was a blowout from the jump, and all things interesting can be summed up as follows: Tony Wroten.  Wroten, the Grizzlies’ first-round draft selection, got his most extensive run of the season, scoring 8 points in 14 minutes.  The skinny on Wroten is that he’s a big (6’6”), athletic point guard with a lot of physical ability and solid basketball instincts but no jumper whatsoever.  He showed the physical ability and the instincts last night as he made a couple of successful drives to the basket along with an impressive assist to a cutting Tony Allen.  Wroten has been compared to Tyreke Evans and Rajon Rondo, and while I’m hardly making the declaration that he’ll be as good as either one of them on the NBA level, I did see flashes of both in 14 minutes of garbage time.  Take that for what it’s worth.

Box Score Observations: Two of eight games were decided by a single-digit margin on Monday, and I’ve discussed them.  The six that weren’t were decided by an average of 22 points.  Kevin Durant dropped 41 on the Suns and Rajon Rondo f@cked around and got his 26th career triple-double in a win over the Bobcats.  That’s all you need to know.

Highlight Recap: Isaiah Thomas scores a beautiful layupRajon Rondo gets straight silly with itRussell Westbrook escorts Goran Dragic back to EuropeKevin Durant being good at basketballSebastian Telfair plays croquet with HasheemKG still pickin’ on point guards.

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