SAN FRANCISCO -- If Dwyane Wade didn’t set a modern-day NBA record on Monday for boarding a postgame bus, then he came pretty close.
After normal road games — win or lose — Wade is usually still sitting at his locker room receiving treatment 10 minutes after a game. That’s when NBA locker rooms are opened to reporters for postgame interviews.
The time between the end of a game and when doors are opened is known as the “cool-down period.” It’s when players and coaches calm down enough after games so they don’t say anything they might regret.
The Heat’s cool-down period went long Monday. When reporters were finally allowed into the locker room, Wade was dressed and ready to leave. On a night Heat coach Erik Spoelstra benched Wade for underperforming, Wade couldn’t get out of Salt Lake City’s EnergySolutions Arena fast enough.
For obvious reasons, Wade wasn’t in a talkative mood. The Heat lost to the Jazz 104-97, and Wade watched the Heat’s failed fourth-quarter attempt at a comeback from the bench. Wearing a colorful down jacket, Wade answered questions professionally but with one eye figuratively on the door. He wanted out of there as quickly as possible.
Wade, who had 11 points, four assists and five rebounds through three quarters, said he didn’t know why he was benched in the final period.
“Coach makes the calls,” Wade said. “I’m just a player.”
Earlier this month, Wade was averaging more than 20 points per game and appeared to be fully healed from his offseason knee surgery. His offensive production has dipped since then. He scored 11 points in each of the Heat’s past two games.
Wade was 3 of 5 from the field against the Kings, but he had seven assists, a few of which went to Mario Chalmers, who tied the Heat’s franchise record with10 three-pointers. Against the Jazz, Wade was 5 of 11 from the field and 0 for 3 from the free-throw line.
Spoelstra also benched Heat forward Chris Bosh for much of the fourth quarter against the Jazz. Bosh finished the game with one rebound, which came late in the second quarter.
He entered the game in the final 40 seconds, but by then it the game was all but lost. The Jazz led 100-93.
“Everybody in our locker room, staff, players, everybody included, has to give more, and that’s the bottom line,” Spoelstra said. “We have to give more to get us over the hump and get a quality win.”
The Heat is 1-3 on its current six-game game trip. Miami has not defeated a team with a winning record since Christmas Day and is 8-9 on the road for the season.
LeBron James, who played 44 minutes against the Jazz, led the team with 32 points. He is 18 points shy of becoming the youngest player in NBA history to reach 20,000 career points.
Although James said his heavy minutes was “tough,” his biggest concern after the game was the Heat’s lack of energy.
“Low energy against a team like this in their building in front of their amazing crowd — we can’t play with low energy,” James said.
After the game, Bosh suggested that his low rebounding statistics of late — he’s averaging 4.5 boards in his past eight games — is a product of the team’s rebounding strategy.
Because of its lack of size, the Heat relies on “team rebounding” to remain competitive on the glass against opponents.
“Well, you know, sometimes I’m in a position where I have to compete with my guys for the rebound,” Bosh said. “And sometimes I do get beat. I’m human. You know, I’m a ballplayer.”
Bosh added that he’s not worried about his rebounding numbers and probably never will be. Although Bosh’s rebounding numbers are down, he leads the team in field-goal percentage (.557).
With two of his stars on the bench, Spoelstra played James, Rashard Lewis, Ray Allen, Joel Anthony and Mario Chalmers for the majority of the fourth quarter. James, Lewis, Allen and Chalmers played all 12 minutes of the period.
For Lewis, who had been out of the Heat’s regular rotation until this road trip, it was his largest contribution of the season. He played a season-high 27 minutes and scored 13 points.
“It’s a tough position to be in,” Bosh said. “Even if you do come back, sometimes you run out of gas at the finish line. But I’m proud of our guys that did play. They competed.”
Of course, the Heat’s locker-room drama on this six-game road trip should be kept in perspective. On Tuesday, an off day for the team in San Francisco, the Heat (24-12) was a half-game ahead of the Knicks for first place in the Eastern Conference.