Five takeaways from the Miami Heat’s 108-97 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night which dropped the Heat back to .500 and snapped its three-game winning streak.
1.. LeBron James loses his temper and gets tossed for first time ever. What James said in anger to the referees can’t be written in this article, but it got him dismissed early from Tuesday night’s game after he was clearly livid about not drawing a foul on a drive to the basket with 1:59 left in the third quarter.
"I got fouled all the way up the court, from the time that I stripped him, all the way until I got to the rim," James said of the sequence leading up to his ejection. "I said what I had to say and then I moved on, but he decided I should get [ejected]. It is what it is. We got the win, and that's what's most important."
Fitzgerald explained the rationale behind his decision to a pool reporter after the game.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
"It was a culmination of a couple different acts," Fitzgerald said. "Immediately after the no-call, he turned and threw an air punch directly at me, and then he aggressively charged at me, and then he used vulgarity in my ear a few times."
Asked if anything happened between him and James before the third quarter that fed into the ejection, Fitzgerald said, "Nothing at all, nothing that I'm aware of."
Luckily for the Cavaliers, who led by 23 points when it happened, the Heat couldn’t take advantage.
James still managed to drop in 21 points and finished with 12 rebounds and six assists in 28 minutes for his 13th double-double of this season.
"They were going for the kill, as well they should," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "And we were trying to find some way. We were grinding for a while. We kept it between 10, 12. But everything we got to that point they would take it to 20. So however he left the arena is pretty much how I felt inside after that ballgame. It's just the way it goes."
2. Way too much Love, and not the good kind: In a game where a lot of the pregame talk was about the Heat facing LeBron James and Dwyane Wade together for the first time, it was Kevin Love who clobbered Miami from the outset. Love finished with a season-high 38 points on 10-of-16 shooting (62.5 percent), but did the majority of his damage in the first half, dropping 32 in the first two quarters. The output equaled the most ever allowed by the Heat in the first half, a mark Love now shares with Tracy McGrady and Lafayette Lever.
"I mean he made some tough shots in the first quarter," said Hassan Whiteside, who opened the game guarding Love. "He hit some threes."
The Heat had Kelly Olynyk guarding Love after Whiteside subbed out with 7:39 left in the first.
That didn’t work.
Miami later put Josh Richardson, one of its best defenders, on him…and not much changed.
The Cavs’ 75 first-half points were a season-high and most allowed by the Heat in the opening half this season. Cleveland shot 29 of 47 from the field during that span and 8 of 18 from three.
3. A nice moment postgame between former teammates. Udonis Haslem and Dwyane Wade played together for 13 seasons with the Heat. After the game Tuesday in a tradition often seen in soccer and football, the two friends and former teammates swapped their jerseys after the game.
"NFL guys to it all the time, why not?" Haslem said. "We talked about it but the one thing we did say was his would probably be sweaty and mine would probably be dry. So that was the one thing we did have right."
Haslem did have a chance to get a little sweaty as he came into the game with 5:09 left in the fourth quarter. It was only his second appearance this season.
"I aint got a chance to get my competitive juices flowing."
4. Silver lining, Bam got to play and played well. With no one having success against Love, Spoelstra turned to Bam Adebayo in the second quarter and later gave the rookie some more minutes after the game was out of reach in the second half. Adebayo played 18 minutes and 27 seconds and finished with a career-high 19 points, six rebounds and a block.
Adebayo hadn’t played in the previous three games and had only played six games since making three consecutive starts while Hassan Whiteside was injured earlier this season.
"My approach to every game is always be ready because you never know how the game is going to go," Adebayo said. "I’m just ready every game. Every time coach calls my name I’ll be ready to go.
"I was like I gotta be patient and wait my turn. My teammates helped me with that. You got to be patient. Everybody on this team waits their turn to get a chance so I was just next up."
5. Is Josh Richardson starting to get over his shooting woes? Even though it didn’t make a major difference in Tuesday’s outcome, the Heat desperately needs more offensive production from Richardson. He shot 6 of 9 and went 3 of 5 from three-point range on Tuesday to finish with 15 points. That was more made three-pointers for Richardson than he made in his past six games combined. Over that span, Richardson had gone 2 for 25 from three.