The Heat plays its second and final ABC-televised game of the regular season on Sunday and arrives in Chicago with this ignominious distinction: Miami is the league’s lowest-scoring and worst second-half team, based on point differential.
On Friday, the Heat squandered nearly all of a 21-point lead but escaped against Indiana, marking only the second time in the past 15 seasons that the Heat was outscored by at least 15 points after halftime in a home game and still managed to win. The other, according to Elias, was against Detroit in 2007.
What’s puzzling to the players is the jarring contrast between the Heat’s first- and second-half play this season. Consider:
▪ The Heat has outscored teams by 57 points in the first half (which is the NBA’s 12th-best differential). But Miami has been outscored by 212 points after halftime, with that minus-4.9 differential ranking last in the league.
▪ The Heat averages 49.8 points in the first half, good for 14th in the league, but just 43.0 in the second half, which ranks last. The Heat’s point differential has been worse in the third quarter than the fourth, but no team averages fewer points in the fourth quarter than Miami’s 22.2.
“As the game tightens up, we get tight a little bit for some reason,” forward Chris Bosh said Friday. “We stop running plays that work. We’re not really reading and reacting correctly to the defense. Sometimes you have to be ahead of the curve and throw wrinkles in there to throw them off a little bit.”
Bosh said coach Erik Spoelstra has been calling more plays late in games than he would otherwise.
“He can call all the plays he wants; that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to score,” Bosh said. “It’s on the players.”
Several Heat regulars have seen their shooting percentage plummet in the fourth quarter. Mario Chalmers is shooting 42.6 percent in the first three quarters, 33.9 in the fourth. Luol Deng has gone from 51.4 to 41.9, Norris Cole from 39.8 to 32.5, Shawne Williams from 47.4 to 32.1, Bosh from 48.4 to 42.2.
Dwyane Wade’s fourth-quarter shooting has been good (48 percent), but he’s at 43.5 in the third. And Wade enters Sunday’s Bulls game in the midst of an unusual extended shooting slump.
Wade, who shot a remarkable 54.5 percent last season, ranks fourth in the league among shooting guards at 48.4 percent but has made less than 50 percent of his shots in his past nine games and is shooting 58 for 144 (40.3 percent) over that stretch.
Wade, who had headaches and dehydration earlier in the day Friday, said: “I was trying to get my legs under me [against Indiana]. They haven’t come with me yet. Hopefully, they come back soon.”
Wade, incidentally, said he’s not bothered by the fact Kyle Lowry surpassed him in fan voting to earn a starting backcourt spot in the All-Star Game. Lowry achieved that largely because of a Raptors-orchestrated social media campaign that helped him overcome Wade’s 115,803-vote lead two weeks ago.
“I wasn’t vote watching,” said Wade, who had been an All-Star starter since 2006. “[The Raptors] had an unbelievable campaign. Kudos to them. … It’s more important for him than it would have been to me.”
Asked if he expects to a named an Eastern Conference reserve, he said: “I don’t care about that stuff. It’s not really a concern for me.”
SUNDAY: HEAT AT BULLS
When/where: 1 p.m., United Center in Chicago.
TV/radio: ABC; WAXY 104.3 FM, 790 AM and WAQI 710 AM (Spanish).
Series: Bulls lead 54-43, including 1-0 this season.
Noteworthy: Playing without Chris Bosh, the Heat shot just 35 percent and Dwyane Wade was 7 for 18 in a 93-75 Bulls win Dec. 14 in Miami. … Two players are questionable with ankle injuries: Heat center Hassan Whiteside (who has missed two games) and Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy (who has missed 10). … The Bulls will honor Heat forward Luol Deng with a tribute during the first timeout; it’s his first appearance back in Chicago since his trade to Cleveland last January. Deng, who played 9 1/2 seasons in Chicago, said “there definitely will be emotions.”