When Heat coach Erik Spoelstra began his post-shootaround talk with the media Thursday morning, he dived right into the roster.
“Who’s playing tonight?” he said, posed as half a question.
He was trying to work through the answers until his team took the court against the New York Knicks in a battle of Eastern Conference leaders. There would be many game-time decisions, he said. Mario Chalmers’ finger is in a splint. Shane Battier’s right knee made it through the shootaround, as did Norris Cole with his sore groin. But things can change quickly. Udonis Haslem has a hip pointer; he only lasted 10 minutes in the morning workout.
“It’s called the NBA, baby,” Dwyane Wade said of his battered squad. “Everyone’s banged up.”
Chalmers and Cole both played, but were limited by their injuries in Thursday’s 112-92 blowout loss at home.
“It’ll hurt us not having a point guard, even though we’ve got guys who can handle the ball,” he said. “It just takes a little bit away from the team if myself or LeBron [ James] has to handle for the majority of the game.”
Terrell Harris, an option at point guard, played just 2:18 but had the confidence of his coach.
“He can do it, particularly when he’s on the floor with a couple of other ballhandlers,” Spoelstra said. “If he’s on the floor with Dwyane, LeBron, I have no reservations about his ability to put the ball on the floor.”
On the opposite side, the Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony ended up with a sliced finger after he dove into the stands in Wednesday’s win against the Charlotte Bobcats. With his status up in the air after receiving stitches to his hand, Spoelstra wanted to eliminate the ‘if’ from whether Anthony takes the court against his team, although Anthony ended up sitting out the game.
“Winning is his highest priority right now; he’s doing it on both ends of the court,” he said. “... For a coaching staff, he’s a nightmare.”
• The noise surrounding a loss to the team with the worst record in the NBA hasn’t been as loud for the Heat as it could be.
Maybe the Heat has the Lakers to thank for driving up the volume with their own set of issues. Wade extends his gratitude: “We appreciate that.”
Regardless, the fall for the Heat at the hands of the Washington Wizards can’t be brushed aside. In what has become a habit for Miami lately, another sluggish start was unable to be saved with a last-minute offensive push.
“To be able to win on the road, you have to be able to defend and grind and weather games where you don’t shoot the ball great,” Spoelstra said. “And we didn’t in the fourth quarter the other night, where we’ve been leaning on to make those shots.”
• Jason Kidd returned to the Knicks lineup Wednesday after missing four games with a back injury.
“His basketball IQ is about the highest we have in this league. It kind of trickles down to everyone else,” James said.