Chris Bosh said earlier this season he wasn’t concerned about the Heat maintaining its edge after a tough loss or even a couple losses. Rather, it’s complacency when things are going well.
Wednesday night, Miami was guilty of that again. For the fourth time this season, the Heat saw a three-game winning streak snapped.
The New York Knicks — whom the Heat blew out twice within five days in November — halted the momentum this time. Behind 25 points from Carmelo Anthony and 19 from Robin Lopez, New York shot 55.7 percent and ended an eight-game losing streak in the series with a 98-90 victory at American Airlines Arena.
“We want to win. We want to turn the curb. This was a chance for us. But once again, we’ve taken a step back,” said Bosh, who led all scorers with 28 points and for the ninth time in his past 10 games eclipsed the 20-point mark.
“It’s our effort and concentration really. We’re not good enough to just come in and show up and think that’s enough. We really have to get to our identity, play the way we’re supposed to play. You give up 50-plus percent [shooting on defense], good things are not going to happen.”
Now, the road is where the Heat is headed. After going 15-8 at home during its first 35 games of the season, Miami (21-14) will play 14 of its next 16 games away from home, including six in a row on the West Coast starting Friday in Phoenix.
Wednesday’s setback to the Knicks (18-19) was just the latest tough-to-swallow loss at home for Miami. Of its eight home losses, four have now come against teams with losing records (Minnesota, Washington and Brooklyn are the others).
Before the Knicks posted the highest shooting percentage an opponent had all season against Miami, the Heat had held its three previous opponents (and 13 overall this season) to under 40 percent shooting. They did so twice to the Knicks in the first two meetings.
“It felt and looked like we were playing in the mud,” Spoelstra said. “We just couldn’t generate the necessary energy defensively that we’re accustomed to doing, and they carved us up.”
The Heat couldn’t generate much offense either.
After shooting a season-worst 37.8 percent in an overtime win Monday night against the Pacers, Miami shot 45.1 percent and missed its first 12 three-point attempts Wednesday night before Bosh buried one with 3:23 to play. The basket extended Miami’s consecutive streak with a three-pointer to 308 games, the third-longest in team history. But it only trimmed the deficit to 92-81.
Bosh closed the third quarter with a left-handed dunk over Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis. But Miami entered the fourth quarter down 12, and outside of Bosh never really got going offensively.
Dwyane Wade scored 12 of his 18 points in the first half but was a non-factor in the second half. Goran Dragic, held scoreless in the first half, finished with 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting.
After missing his first game of the season Monday with pain in his right knee, center Hassan Whiteside was back in the Heat’s starting lineup. But he wasn’t much of a force down low.
Whiteside, who said he had an MRI performed on the knee Tuesday and results showed no structural damage, finished with eight points, eight rebounds and one block in 28-plus minutes but was outplayed by Lopez. He finished a team-worst minus-18.
“My knee was bothering me, but I still went out there and rebounded and did what I do,” Whiteside said. “We’ll just kind of go day-by-day. I’m just going to keep icing it and hopefully it will get better.”
Miami led 35-32 when Wade scored on a drive to the basket with 4:14 left in the half. But the Knicks closed the first half on a 15-4 run and never led by fewer than seven points the rest of the way.
Now, the road beckons for Miami.
“I’m very confident this team can go on the road and win ballgames,” Wade said.
Could there be a benefit to hitting the road for the Heat?
“Being uncomfortable,” Wade said. “Sometimes when you’re comfortable you lose a game like tonight. When you’re uncomfortable you play with a little more sense of urgency at times. So when you’re on the road — as much as we’re going to be on the road — you’re going to be uncomfortable. You’re going to have to look at yourself in the mirror a few times and figure it out.
“A lot of people say you’ll see what you’re made of. I don’t think I’ve had a span like this since I’ve been in the league. This is going to be our greatest challenge of the season and I look forward to seeing how this team responds to it.”