Chris Bosh stared up from his locker with a look of frustration and asked a simple question.
“How many points did we score?” Bosh said to a group of reporters surrounding him after the Heat’s loss in Atlanta on Friday.
The Heat scored 103 points in defeat, and four players had at least 19 points in the loss.
“That's enough points to win, and I feel strongly about that,” Bosh said. “That's enough points to win, and we have to play better defense. That’s what it all comes down to.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
Not having Dwyane Wade in the lineup for the first time this season upset the Heat’s rhythm, but not on the offensive end. Miami’s slow-to-react defense wasn’t ready for the Atlanta’s constantly moving shooters early in the game, and once the Hawks were comfortable they began pouring on the points. Eight players scored in double figures for Atlanta and the Hawks shot 56 percent from the field.
“Our shot selections was poor in the beginning of the game and we eventually got going and figure out how to play together … and after that, we're got to make a stand — 103 points, I'll take that every game,” Bosh said.
“If we want to average 103 points for the rest of the season then that’s great, but we can’t give up 116 or 120. We’ve got to play some defense.”
Poor defense has plagued the Heat during its two-game losing skid, but Miami will have a chance to turn things around Sunday with a home game against the Milwaukee Bucks, which lost to the Orlando Magic 101-85 on Friday.
The Pacers out-rebounded the Heat 53-28 on Wednesday and on Friday the Heat's defense allowed the Hawks to shoot nearly 62 percent in the first half.
“There were a handful of times when we were able to impose our will,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It takes a tremendous amount of effort, multiple efforts and activity to be able to defend offensive teams like this.
“We certainly felt with Dwyane out that we scored enough to give ourselves a chance to win, but we never got to the defensive disposition and mind-set that you need to win against a team like this in their building.”
Atlanta scored 35 points in the first quarter and led the Heat 62-52 at halftime. The Hawks played offense so efficiently at times in the first half that it was almost like they were running their own five-man drill. They had 18 assists on 20 field goals in the first two quarters.
“We’re not getting off to good starts defensively, whether it’s the coverages or the man-to-man defenses, they’re blowing by us, we’re not helping each other or we have no weak-side defense,” Bosh said. “It just wasn’t there for the last two games.
“Eventually we’re going to have to turn the corner. This is our ninth game, and we have to start showing ourselves that we know what we’re doing out there.”
This and that
▪ Heat reserve Chris Andersen played just seven minutes in the first half and recorded one rebound and one assist. Andersen didn’t play in the second half, but Spoelstra said the backup center wasn’t injured.
Andersen missed five consecutive games recently with bruised ribs. Udonis Haslem played 10 minutes in the second half against the Hawks and finished with six rebounds and six points.
“I actually had the intention to play him in the first half, but I went with [Haslem],” Spoelstra said. “Bird will be out there Sunday.”
▪ Rookie James Ennis made the first start of his career against Atlanta, and could be in the starting lineup again against Milwaukee. Ennis only played five minutes in the first half, but that allowed Spoelstra to keep his second unit intact. Mario Chalmers played 40 minutes off the bench and led the Heat with 23 points.
Sunday: Bucks at Heat
When/Where: 6 p.m., AmericanAirlines Arena.
TV/Radio: Sun Sports; WAXY 104.3 FM , 790 AM and WAQI 710 AM (Spanish).
Series: Heat leads 60-34.
Noteworthy: The Heat has lost two in a row and could be without four players on Sunday. Dwyane Wade (strained hamstring), Josh McRoberts (blister), Justin Hamilton (strained left adductor) and Danny Granter (strained left hamstring) are questionable. For the Bucks, Khris Middleton (right knee pain) is questionable, and Damien Inglis (right ankle surgery) and Johnny O’Bryant (sprained right knee) are out.