If you've read my Heat game story from New Orleans tonight, you've seen some of the eye-opening reaction from Chris Bosh and LeBron James. Check out that story for game details. What follows is a more expansive chronicling of quotes from the locker-room:
The shortcomings on the defensive end are as glaring as they are troubling during this Heat swoon that has now extended to a third week, with seven losses in Miami’s last 11 games. Never before during the Big Three era has the Heat played such deficient defense for such a prolonged stretch.
What’s less obvious, but also problematic, is an issue Chris Bosh broached in an emotional, dejected Heat locker-room in the aftermath of Saturday’s 105-95 loss to the lottery-bound New Orleans Pelicans.
Bosh cited a lack of passion, perhaps not surprising during the drudgery of a season that will be judged solely on whether Miami wins a third consecutive championship. But he also pointed a lack of communication, or more specifically, the players' reluctance to stand up and say what needs to be said.
Perhaps Saturday night marked a turning point in that regard, with Bosh and LeBron James speaking more bluntly than any Heat player has all season. Whether it leads to better defensive play remains to be seen.
“We don’t talk about it,” a frustrated Bosh said about Miami’s on-court problems. “We're not expressing ourselves in the locker-room or on the court. So I figure I'll be the first one to say we suck and we need to turn it around and if we don't turn it around, we'll be watching the championship at home.
“We continue to show up and do whatever. Loss, nobody is upset. Win, nobody is happy. There's no passion. There's nothing. I just want there to be something. If you are mad, say you're mad. If you are frustrated, say you are frustrated. We just need some dialogue. It's uncomfortable keeping things in. We've been keeping things in for a whole season now. You have to let it out.”
But Bosh acknowledged it will take more than words to snap this team out of a funk that has raised serious concerns internally.
“[Words] can definitely light a fire. [But] that isn't going to make the next game easier,” he said. “We need that competitive drive back. We don't have it. No offense to the Pelicans but we've been losing to sub .500 teams for a month now. It's unacceptable. We're going to have to draw the line in the sand somewhere.
“It starts and ends with us. Right now, we’re looking for other people or some miraculous situation to come down and help us and nobody is going to help us. The only person that’s going to help us out of this is the person standing back in the mirror. Until we recognize that and acknowledge it and fight past it, we’re going to keep getting the same result.”
Said James: “Too many excuses. Something goes wrong? An excuse. Lineup change? An excuse. Turn the ball over? An excuse. We've got to own what we're doing right now, and what we're doing right now isn't good enough. It's very frustrating. We're all frustrated.”
Most disconcerting is the Heat’s dramatic defensive drop-off. In field goal percentage against, the Heat ranked second, fifth and sixth the past three seasons, finishing between 43.4 and 44 percent every year. This season? Miami is 18th at 45.7, with lottery-bound Orlando, Cleveland and Boston all stingier. Only twice in the past 14 seasons has Miami finished out of the top 10 in that category.
“On defense, we can’t stop a nose bleed,” Bosh said. “It has nothing to do with talent level. This team [New Orleans] got everything they wanted. They’re not even an outside jump shooting team. They lit us up on the three-point line. Penetration. No good man [defense] or blitzes. No good pick and roll coverage. Everything is bad.”
James was asked to explain why the Heat has allowed seven of its past 11 opponents to shoot between 49.3 and 52 percent.
“There’s a disconnect,” he said. “We have to get reconnected.”
Is it because of all the lineup changes? “That’s an excuse, too,” he said. “We’ve always had lineup changes. First of all, you have to guard your man and help second. When you break down, you have to rely on help. We're not getting both.
“Guys are not playing their man. When guys get beat, which will happen in this league because it's great players, then the help comes. We're not doing it.”
The last Heat team to allow more points per game than this one was the 2007-08 group, which finished 15-67 and permitted 100 points per game. This Heat team is relinquishing nearly 99, much worse than Indiana (92.2) and worse than the first three seasons of the Big Three era (94.6, 92.5, 95.0).
“We've got to play harder,” Udonis Haslem said. “We can't take plays off. We can't expect anyone to give us nothing. We're not entitled. Everything we've gotten, we've earned.
“Sometimes we get stops and we don't get the rebounds. Sometimes we don't get stops. We got to get stops and rebounds. We can't get the stop and they get an offensive rebound and get another 24 [seconds]. We've got to guard the ball, and when the ball gets in the paint, we've got to contest. It's not about offense right now. It's about defense.”
### Though James rolled his right ankle late in the third quarter, he played through it and said he wouldn’t miss any games. “I don’t have time to take off,” he said. “We don’t have time to take off.” James said he injured the ankle when he stepped on Anthony Davis' foot, but replays indicated it appeared to be Chris Andersen's foot, not Davis'.
Please check back Sunday morning for more Heat, Dolphins, Marlins and Canes in the Sunday buzz column.