Miami Heat

It’s back to basics for struggling Miami Heat

Struggling: With an injured Dwyane Wade on the bench, Chris Bosh, right, and the Heat have struggled to find consistency early this season.
Struggling: With an injured Dwyane Wade on the bench, Chris Bosh, right, and the Heat have struggled to find consistency early this season. El Nuevo Herald

Following the Heat’s 110-93 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night, Chris Bosh found an elusive bright side to Miami’s three-game losing streak at AmericanAirlines Arena.

“We are not in the West,” Bosh said. “We don’t have to play teams like that four times a year, and at 6-6 we would be in, what, 12th place. So, it’s all good.

“That’s why the East is so great.”

The quip was tongue-in-cheek, and a good-humored Bosh provided contrast in an otherwise serious, subdued practice on a rainy Friday afternoon. Directly after, the Heat boarded a flight to Orlando, where it will try to earn its second win in six weeks against the Magic.

Coach Erik Spoelstra and players made it clear that everything is not “all good” in Miami.

The Heat sounds like it was training camp all over again; there was lots of talk of working things out and giving players the time to get to know each other and adjust.

Spoelstra stressed the need for consistency on defense, which is more difficult considering seven players are dealing with some kind of physical ailment.

Among those injured are Dwyane Wade, who sat out his fourth consecutive game Thursday night with a hamstring injury, Luol Deng, who’s getting over a wrist injury, and now Norris Cole, who dislocated his middle left finger deflecting a pass against the Clippers.

Shannon Brown started the second half in place of Cole, and Spoelstra called on Justin Hamilton to play a few minutes. It was Hamilton’s first appearance on court since Nov.5; he has been dealing with a hip injury.

A somber Cole said he’s following doctors’ orders as far as playing time goes. Spoelstra said the team is going to wait and see how the point guard feels Saturday.

“It’s frustrating, but it’s better early than late,” Cole said of the Heat’s diminished lineup. “We don’t feel sorry for ourselves; we’re professionals, so whoever’s out there is expected to compete at a high level and still expected to win.”

Defensively, and especially facing this many injuries, Bosh said the players have to hold each other accountable.

“Guys just really have to jump off that bridge and trust each other,” Bosh said, “and you know, know they’re going to get caught if they’re making a mistake.”

Napier vs. Paul

Shabazz Napier logged just over 32 minutes Thursday — the most he has played this season — thanks to the Heat’s injury-riddled lineup. He went 5 of 9 from the field and scored a third of the Heat’s three-pointers (two).

“I mean, of course you want more minutes, but you don’t want it to be in injuries,” Napier said. “I’d rather not get minutes and have my guys be healthy. At the end of the day, we need every single person, and any opportunity I’m given, I’m going to try my best.”

Napier also got the chance to face the Clippers’ Chris Paul.

The rookie point guard said he wasn’t in awe watching Paul, but he did appreciate the moment.

“It was definitely cool to go up against somebody I’ve looked at growing up,” Napier said. “When I was on the bench watching them, when I was playing them, I was trying to find ways — he’s so disruptive on defense and good at offense. [Thursday] was a true testament to who he is as a player. He came out and played well.”

Saturday: Heat at Magic

When/where: 7 p.m., Amway Center, Orlando.

TV/radio: Sun Sports; WAXY 104.3 FM, 790 AM; WAQI 710AM (Spanish),

Series: Heat leads 55-44.

Noteworthy: Dwyane Wade is out, marking the fifth game he has missed with a strained hamstring. Norris Cole is questionable because of a dislocated left middle finger, but the Heat’s starting shooting guard has played in 160 consecutive games, the third-most in franchise history. ... The Heat (6-6) has lost four of its past five games and is seventh in the Eastern Conference.

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