A recap and reaction from a dismal Heat night in North Carolina:
CHARLOTTE --- No team has played as few road games as the Heat, which hosted 14 of its first 19 to start the season.
The schedule isn’t nearly as forgiving in the next seven weeks --- Miami plays 12 of 13 on the road in one grueling January stretch --- and far more will be required than the dreadful effort the Heat served up here on Wednesday night.
Turnover-prone on offense and sluggish and slow-reacting on defense, the Heat was trampled early, falling into a 20-point halftime hole, trailing by 26 after three and losing 99-81 to the Hornets.
“Big old fashioned butt whooping,” Chris Bosh said. “Everything was off. We messed up in every facet. By now, we should know our game. We talk about things, but we don’t do it. We’ve had enough conversations, but there are so many you have in the beginning of the year. I don’t know how many speeches [Udonis Haslem] has to give. We have to be professional and come to play.”
Dwyane Wade put it this way: “We just didn’t play hard enough. That's what I’ve been cautioning everybody about in the beginning of the season is we’re just not there yet and it’s going to take a while.”
What specifically irked Wade and Bosh were the Heat’s freelancing tendencies on offense.
“You can’t freelance on the road,” said Wade, who scored 11 points in 25 minutes. “It goes back to the Detroit game. C.B. has to touch the ball in spots where he’s comfortable. I have to touch the ball in spots where I’m comfortable and then we play from there. When we get into this freelance basketball on the road, it's just not the game that's successful for us at this point.
"You can get away with that at home. On the road, you have to be specific where you need to go, especially when a team is coming out and they're hot early.”
Bosh, who had just seven points and two rebounds in 21 minutes, seemed somewhat exasperated, saying he’s “reliant” on getting the ball in the right spot. “In this system, I have to have trust in it and it is a necessity the ball moves. If the ball doesn’t move, I don't move. Nothing moves for me. It's going to be zero, zero, zero, zero, zero. I don't want to just go get the ball, clear out and shoot bad shots. I want to be able to play team ball.
“We need to put the ball in certain places, know where the ball is going. We have to relay the calls and today, we didn't, on top of not playing good defense. Day to day, we don’t know where the ball is going… We get to the game and everything stops.”
So why is this happening?
“Everyone means well,” Wade said. “You can’t spar on the road. You have to get to your game right away.”
The Heat committed 18 turnovers (including six by Hassan Whiteside) and shot 38.7 percent. Goran Dragic scored just five (2 for 7 shooting) after three consecutive sharp games. Whiteside scored just six and struggled when given the chance to post up.
Defensively, Miami was too slow in rotating to three-point shooters, with Charlotte opening 7 for 12 from beyond the arc and finishing 11 for 27 (41 percent).
The Heat, which ranked in the top three in field-goal percentage against for much of the season, has now had back-to-back defensive stinkers. On Monday, Miami allowed 114 points and 50 percent shooting, including 9 for 18 on threes, in an 11-point loss to Washington.
On Wednesday, Charlotte shot 49 percent, with too many attempts going unchallenged. “It’s the game everyone is playing,” Wade said of teams spreading the floor. “You have to make faster adjustments on the fly.”
Charlotte's Nic Batum had his fifth career triple double (10 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists). Marvin Williams and Kemba Walker each scored 18, with Walker hitting four threes.
“There were a lot of threes in the first half that were open," Wade said. "It's the game everyone is playing. Right now, everyone is trying to figure out how to play against the small ball, the small fours and the small fives that can shoot the ball. We've got to make adjustments faster and it's all about communicating to each other. We talk about it often. Now we have [to be able] to make those adjustments on the fly. If we can't do that, there's going to be more losses like this. If we do it, we'll be fine."
The Heat’s 36 points in the first half were its second-fewest in 20 games this season and its 20-point halftime deficit was its largest.
Miami, led in scoring by Tyler Johnson’s 20, never drew closer than 15 in the second half.
“Offensively, a very sloppy game,” Spoelstra said. And defensively, “we got torched. It just seemed like we were late on everything. We tried everybody. Our players were trying to step up in huddles, coaches. We just didn't get it done. We have to get back to work.”
Last word from Wade: "We have to decide how we want this season to go. If we want it to go in a positive way, then we'll figure out how to get it together. We'll figure out how to be on the same page together, communicate together and get the job done and give ourselves a chance to win on the road."
The Heat (12-8) plays Friday at Indiana.
Some Wednesday Dolphins, Canes and Heat notes from Charlotte, where Miami plays the Hornets tonight:
### Luol Deng returns tonight after missing six games with a hamstring injury. But Erik Spoelstra said he will start Gerald Green instead so that he can monitor Deng's minutes.
### The Heat spent practice time this week working on defending five-guard lineups, and Hassan Whiteside said he’s “excited” to prove he can be an asset defensively in those lineups after not getting the opportunity on Monday against Washington.
With the Wizards playing five guards, Whiteside sat the entire fourth quarter of Washington’s win. That led to a discussion with coach Erik Spoelstra on Tuesday.
“We worked some things out,” Whiteside said Wednesday. “Everything is going to be all right.”
Whiteside said he spent the aftermath brushing up on the team’s defensive rotations against such small lineups “and rotating out on guards” so that he’s prepared if Spoelstra uses him against lineups with five shooters.
“I'm excited about it,” Whiteside said. “I can't come into the game trying to be one of the best defenders in the NBA and not be able to guard a guard. That's something I can do.”
Whiteside, who entered Wednesday’s game against Charlotte ranked eighth in the NBA in rebounds per game (10.5) and first in blocks (4.5), said he’ll well equipped to defend perimeter players because “that's all I play against when I'm not playing an NBA game. There aren't a lot of 7-footers around.
“I play [backcourt teammates] Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson all the time one-on-one. Ask them how I do. Normally I win, but I don't want to give myself a pat on the back.
“I feel like I'm a mobile big. I feel like I can do a lot of things other 7 footers can't do. I never felt I was one of those 7 footers where I get on the perimeter and I just fall over. I feel like I can stay in front of a lot of guys.”
Celtics center Jared Sulinger said recently that Whiteside doesn’t leave the paint much defensively even when he’s defending a jump-shooting center. Is that Whiteside’s decision or the team’s?
“It's more my decision, but it's something I'm going to have to adapt with,” he said. “I consider myself one of the elite defenders in the NBA. That's just something I've got to change.”
Chris Bosh, whose skills are well suited to defending centers on the perimeter, said Whiteside is “going to make mistakes” defending guard-heavy lineups. “We have to know that off of mental conditioning. It took me a long time to get used to it.”
Spoelstra said Whiteside “has shown times he can cover the court. We’ll adapt."
Spoelstra said facing such a small lineup Monday “forced us to address it, which we needed to…. We worked on it the last two days, of five shooters on the floor.”
### In the wake of the NBA admitting that it bungled a call against the Heat late in the Wizards game, Spoelstra said: “OK, thank you. What can you say? I appreciate them for over-communicating, but that doesn't change how we feel about the emotion of the call when it happened.”
The league, in its daily officiating report, said Wizards guard Bradley Beal traveled with 1:07 left against the Heat. The violation was not called, and Beal passed to Gary Neal for a three-pointer that pushed Washington’s lead to five.
Bosh, whose vociferous objection about the non-call led to his ejection, said he was still thinking about whether to appeal the $6000 fine, which includes two technical fouls and an ejection.
Dolphins interim coach Dan Campbell said it appears that right tackle Ja'Wuan James will remain sidelined Monday against the Giants and Rishard Matthews "probably" will, too. "At this time, I don't feel great about either one of them playing."
### Campbell, asked by Giants writers what has contributed to the criticism of Ndamukong Suh: "I guess that criticism came early right, in the first three or four weeks because I don't know any criticism that would come out about him now about the way he plays. If you turn on the tape, nobody is playing better than he is at defensive tackle in the NFL right now. His game is a high, high level right now. He is a productive player, he's disruptive and I'm glad we've got him."
### Campbell, asked by Giants writers to assess Ryan Tannehill's season: "I feel like he's played solid football for us and I feel like with where we're trying to go now is to give him the best opportunity to have success. I think that there's a certain way to use Ryan Tannehill and that's what we're trying to do with him and set him up to give him the best chance of success possible. I'm glad he's our quarterback right now."
### Campbell told Giants writers he believes he will be a head coach in the NFL for a long time: "I'm not the one who makes those decisions, but yes, I do feel like I know it's in my blood and I feel like I'm doing what I was meant to be doing. Certainly this is a win business, you've got to win games, but this definitely does not feel like it's too big for me or it's over my head, I've gotten more comfortable every week. I'm doing everything that I can to win games here."
UM's hiring of Mark Richt is fueling strong ticket sales. Since Friday's announcement of his hiring, UM has sold 1,025 new season tickets (excludes renewals).
According to UM sales reps, the volume of calls and demand have been the highest since the response after UM beat Nebraska in the January 2002 Rose Bowl to win the national title.
UM sent renewals out Tuesday, and prices have mostly stayed the same. Ticket prices have been reduced in a couple of seating areas.