The Heat got the set up it wanted Monday night against Orlando.
It got center Chris Bosh back to bolster its roster, and he came up with 20 points and eight rebounds. It also got 20-point performances from Dwyane Wade (25) and, off the bench, Danny Granger (21). It got to the free-throw line, shooting 40 to Orlando’s 13. It got the ball in Wade’s hands with the chance for a crescendo finish on his 15-point fourth-quarter symphony.
All that in place and the Heat still didn’t get what it really wanted: a win. That left the building on Orlando’s bus, 102-101, after Wade’s last-second, contested 18-footer bounced away.
And, unlike Saturday’s loss to Memphis, nobody tried to paint the smile on the night by talking about progress shown.
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“[Expletive] progress tonight,” Wade said.
Said Bosh: “We had a fourth-quarter lead, and we’re giving it up damned near every time. We’re not getting those critical stops. We need to execute and get a bucket, we’re not getting that either.”
Said Wade: “We’ve got to find a way to win games. You would love to be whole, but even when you’re not whole, when you play hard, you give yourself a chance to win games, you’ve got to win those games, especially at home. We’ve shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times late in games. Even though we’ve got some new guys, we’ve got enough veteran guys on this team in the rotation that we shouldn’t be doing that.”
The Heat (14-18) fell to four games under .500 for the first time during this administration, Obama’s or Erik Spoelstra’s. They spent almost the entire 15-67 2007-08 season, Pat Riley’s last as coach, a mineshaft under .500 and were four games under at 1-5 and 0-4.
Barring injury to Wade and Bosh, that disaster won’t be repeated. So perhaps the more pertinent numbers are 6-12 at home and 2-5 on this homestand. Three of those five losses came to Orlando, Utah and Philadelphia, a terrible trio that combined for 26 wins going into Monday’s games.
Now, the Heat go on the road for games at Indiana and Houston, see Brooklyn back home for a back end of a back-to-back with that Houston road game, then swing through the West Coast gauntlet.
“I just saw the schedule coming up and it’s a beast,” Bosh said. “This one would’ve been a good one to get and we didn’t get it.”
Granger’s three-pointer put the Heat up 101-97 with 1:38 left in a match race of a game that saw Orlando center Nikola Vucevic put up a game-high 26 points on 12-of-17 shooting from the field and 5 of 6 from the line. But come winning time, the Magic went to 6-4 guard Victor Oladipo.
Or, rather, Oladipo took it upon himself to win it. He dished to Tobias Harris, who hit from 10 feet to cut the lead to 101-99. Off a Wade miss, Deng tried a putback that Vucevic palmed long enough for a jump-ball call. Orlando got the tip. Oladipo put in a driving layup over two defenders and off the backboard just south of the shot clock: 101-101.
Wade missed again and Orlando rebounded. Oladipo got isolated on Norris Cole, drove and got the foul call.
“No, I didn’t get him, but they called it,” Cole said. “They’re human.”
Oladipo sank 1 of 2 free throws. Bosh rebounded his miss with 6.3 seconds left. Off the inbounds, Wade wound up facing Oladipo, then some help as he pulled up and fired.
“It was a bang-bang play,” Wade said. “Once I started my penetration, our spacing wasn’t good enough, and they were able to come and double. I had no lane to go to the basket. There wasn’t enough time to get to where I wanted to get to.”
Bosh shredded Orlando for 32 points and 10 rebounds last month. In his return from missing eight games with a calf injury, Bosh played 32:58 and shot 8 of 17 from the field and 4 of 7 from the line.
“I worked hard with the trainers to make sure when I came back my legs were in good condition,” Bosh said. “It went better than I thought. It’s a good thing, a plus out of a negative.”