The Heat had more than a few circumstances working against it on Wednesday night against the Golden State Warriors.
First there was Dwyane Wade, who watched from the bench with a hamstring injury. With Wade back on the shelf, the Heat officially has returned to struggling offensively.
Compounding Wade’s absence, two youngsters made their first career starts for the Heat against a team that’s playing arguably the best basketball in the NBA. Add to that scenario the weariness that goes along with playing on the second night of a back-to-back on the West Coast near the end of a long road trip, and the Heat didn’t have much of chance.
The Heat scored just 38 points in the first half, shot 42 percent from the field overall and lost to the playoff ready Golden State Warriors 104-89 at Oracle Arena. The Warriors are 17-1 at home this season. The Heat finishes its five-game road trip on Friday in Sacramento.
“In the first half, we just really didn’t bring much of a competitive oomph and disposition with what we saw [Tuesday],” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “In the second half, I thought we competed better, but it just wasn’t good enough basketball to get over the hump and give ourselves a real chance to win down at the end.”
The Heat (17-22), which defeated the Lakers on Tuesday, fell behind by 19 points to the Warriors in the first half, but then cut large deficits to nine points in both the third and fourth quarters. It was a nice effort for an overmatched team, but the Warriors cruised to victory behind the sharpshooting of Stephen Curry and excellent perimeter defense by Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala. Curry had 32 points, going 11 of 19 from the field and 7 of 10 from three-point range.
“Everyone talks about their offense, and how they shoot the ball,” Spoelstra said of the Warriors, “but their defense does a real good job of keeping you on the sidelines and keeping you from getting ball movement and we suffered because of that.”
The Warriors were 13 of 29 from three-point range for 44 percent. The Heat is 1-14 this season when opponents shoot at least 40 percent from three-point range. Golden State (31-5), the top team in the Western Conference, had one fewer assist (29) than the Heat had total field goals (30).
Wade missed his first game after straining his left hamstring on Tuesday against the Lakers. If this setback is anything like his last left hamstring injury, then he could be out a few weeks. Wade missed seven games earlier this season with a strained hamstring.
With Wade out, Spoelstra juggled his lineup dramatically by starting rookie point guard Shabazz Napier and newcomer Hassan Whiteside, the seven-foot center who has re-energized the team’s defense. Napier had 10 points and six assists (three turnovers) in 33 minutes and Whiteside recorded his third double-double in his last five games. The center had 10 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks in 29 minutes.
“Call me crazy, but I think we’re taking small steps forward,” said Chris Bosh, who had 26 points and seven rebounds. “Early in the season we kind of would have given up a little bit. We still did have timely turnovers and they were able to extend the lead. The next step is to go from 12 to six and continue to cut into the lead, but we had our chances.”