Heat End 2014 With A Dud

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The Miami Heat have to be glad to turn the calendar to a new year.

The Heat continue their slide, losing 106-95 to the Indiana Pacers. After taking a nine-point halftime lead, the Heat’s trend of second half collapses continued, as the Pacers outscored them 64-44 after the break. The 64 points were the most the Heat had given up in a second half this season. Yes, to the Indiana Pacers.

The loss was Miami’s third in a row, dropping them to 14-19, clinging to the 8th spot in the East. The Pacers improve to 12-21, and sit two games behind Miami.

The Heat had five players in double-figures, led by Dwyane Wade’s 20 points. He shot 9 for 20 from the field, dished out 7 assists, and blocked 3 shots, including one on Pacers center Roy Hibbert. Chris Bosh had 18 points and 8 rebounds, while Luol Deng (*cough*) scored 15 points, on 6 of 11 shooting, and even Chris Andersen is fitting into the starting lineup, going for 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks.

CJ Miles came off the bench to lead all socrers with 25 points (6 of 16 shooting), with 7 rebounds, and 4 assists. The most disturbing stat was the 5 for 10 shooting Miles had from three. He helped lead a bench unit that scored 52 points for the Pacers. Hibbert had a double-double, going for 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Things that pleased me: Danny Granger made his return to Indiana to take on his former team for the first time, and he didn’t disappoint. He continued his hot play, scoring 14 points, on 6 of 9 shooting, and hitting two from downtown.

Oh, and Hassan Whiteside continues to be provide a spark in his limited minutes, going for 6 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocks in his 19 minutes on the floor. Whiteside is clearly the recipient of Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra’s “Young player getting extra time” award.

Things that annoyed me:  Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Heat fell apart in the third quarter. Now that I think of it, I’m pretty sure I’ve used that sentence before. After taking a 51-42 lead into the half, on the strength of 58% shooting and 26 points in the paint, the Heat fell completely off the wagon. Miami shot 39% from the field in the third, as they resorted to their jump-shooting ways. To top it off, the Heat has one basket in the paint the whole quarter.

As the collapse was occurring, the Pacers were taking their shots at the reeling Heat, and pretty much almost made all of them. Indiana shot 68% from the field, hitting all their threes, and took this game by the throat, outscoring Miami 36-19 in the quarter.

Things that perplexed me: The Pacers entered Wednesday’s game ranked 20th in the NBA in three-point field goal percentage (33.5%), so of course they bombed away from downtown. Indiana hit 10 of 18 threes (58%), as the Heat letting them have open look after open look. The Heat are sixth worse in the league in defending the three, as teams are shooting 37% against them from outside. Whatever the Heat think they are doing to prevent teams from getting good looks from beyond the arc clearly isn’t working.

Scale of 1 to 10, how bad did I want to throw a lamp because of Mario Chalmers? 10. Let’s toss a couple of lamps because of Norris Cole, while we’re at it. The Heat continue to get nothing of value from the point guard position, as Chalmers and Cole combined for 11 points, 9 assists, and 8 turnovers. They weren’t all that great on defense, as George Hill went for 20 points, and CJ Watson came off the bench for another 11 points. One has to question what exactly Shabazz Napier did to Coach Spoelstra to warrant being demoted to the D-League, while Chalmers and Cole continue to be useless.

What we’ve learned: 2014 couldn’t end any quicker for the Heat, as they have been relegated to a dumpster fire since June. At some point these losses are going to make you question what direction this team should go in for the remainder of the season. Even at five games under .500, and clinging to the last spot in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, the Heat play seven of their next nine on the road. Although they’ve shown to be better away from Miami, the Heat have road games against Houston (upcoming on Saturday), Portland, the Clippers, Golden State, and Sacramento coming up.

Happy New Year.