Goran Dragic has never been a fan of the NBA’s Last Two Minute Reports.
So hearing referees blew two more calls that hurt the Heat late in regulation of Wednesday’s 123-119 overtime loss to the Sacramento Kings did nothing to make the 31-year-old All-Star feel any better about it. In fact, Dragic said Friday, he’d rather not know about what calls officials missed at all anymore.
“They’re not going to reverse the call and they’re not going to give us a win,” Dragic said Friday after the Heat (36-33) wrapped up shootaround at UCLA. “What’s done is done. You cannot look back in the past, you focus on the future.”
The fact is, though, for the second time in an eight-day span, the Heat, fighting for playoff seeding and currently in eighth place in the East heading into Friday’s game against the Lakers, lost a game in overtime in which multiple blown calls in the final two minutes of regulation or overtime affected the outcome.
In Wednesday’s loss, the league said, Dragic should have gone to the foul line with 10.5 seconds left and Miami clinging to a 110-109 lead after replays showed Kings rookie De’Aaron Fox made contact with Dragic’s arm, affecting his control of the ball. Instead, the play resulted in a 24-second violation for the Heat with Dragic never getting a shot off. Dragic didn’t complain about it right after Wednesday’s game, but confirmed on Friday he was fouled on the play.
“I did [get fouled], but what can you do?” Dragic said. “You try to be cool because you know that you need to defend one more play or it’s overtime so you cannot lose control.”
The second officiating mistake and break for the Kings, the report said, came moments after the Heat’s 24-second shot clock violation when Kings forward Bogan Bogdanovic failed to release an inbounds pass within five seconds. A similarly missed five second violation by officials on an inbounds pass – as well as two other calls – went against the Heat in a 117-113 overtime loss to the Wizards in Washington on March 6.
Although Sacramento didn’t score after officials missed the five-second violation, it still should have been the Heat’s ball with 9.3 seconds remaining. Instead, Miami retained possession on a Zach Randolph airball and Kelly Olynyk ended up at the free throw line, where he made one of two. Fox then sent the game to overtime tied at 111 with a runner in the lane as time expired before the Kings pulled out the victory in overtime.
“It’s what it is,” coach Erik Spoelstra said of the latest blunder by officials to go against the Heat. “I didn’t even send in any of my remarks this time to it. We had opportunities to win that game, up four, with the ball, with 65 seconds to go. You’ve got to find a way to win the game, regardless of what the officials do. I don’t even care how other parts of the game went, that game was under control. We just have to be able to execute, get two shots, and we’re out of there with a win. We weren’t able to do that, so all of the rest of it is just narrative.”
Despite the struggles for the Heat (Miami is 3-9 in clutch games since Feb. 1 and losers of nine in a row on the road), Spoelstra said he still sees strides being made.
“The thing that we’ve been really focusing on is developing this muscle of resilience,” he said. “The only way you actually get an opportunity to work on it is when you are going through things that aren’t necessarily going your way. We are getting better, we are getting stronger from this, and I truly believe that we’ll find the benefits of going through these kinds of games and the emotions. There’s a lot of teaching points, not only schematically, but also from a focus standpoint, attention to detail and emotional stability.
“We’re going through all of those things you go through in close games. They feel like playoff games. Not everybody is going through games of that intensity and that type of consequence that our guys are feeling. We are getting better from it and I do believe we’ll get the benefit from that eventually.”
▪ Dwyane Wade (mild left hamstring strain) and Hassan Whiteside (left hip pain) are making progess according to Spoelstra, but did not go through shootaround and will not play Friday. Forward Josh Richardson (left foot soreness) was upgraded to questionable for Friday’s game.
▪ The Heat called up forward Derrick Jones Jr. from Sioux Falls on Friday to add depth to the roster. Jones Jr. has three days left on his 40-day, two-way contract before the team is required to sign him to the 15-man roster or release him.