For most of the game, the Heat’s players looked like they actually believed they had a chance against the Golden State Warriors.
Then Josh McRoberts missed two free throws.
And then Shabazz Napier threw a pass into the first row of fans behind the basket.
And then Mario Chalmers airballed from 28 feet.
Those were enough mistakes to blow a game against any team, but against Steph Curry’s Warriors, things can get out of hand in a hurry. After matching Golden State shot for shot in the first half, the Heat watched the Warriors close out the game with a 19-2 run to win 114-97.
The Heat (8-7) shot 27 percent in the second half and 17 percent in the fourth quarter.
“I don’t really get what we think or what we do down the stretch against good teams, the elite teams,” said Chris Bosh, who finished with 26 points and nine rebounds. “For some reason, we just forget everything, offensive and defensive execution.”
Meanwhile, Curry just kept hitting three-pointers.
He went 12 of 19 from the field for the game, including 8 of 11 from three-point range, and finished with 40 points. Curry shot 6 of 10 overall and 4-of-6 shooting from distance in the second half. The Heat was 7 of 10 from three-point range in the first half, but made one fewer as a team than Curry in the second half.
“I’ll tell you what, there’s only maybe two or three guys who can shoot those kind of threes off the dribble, and that’s the fastest release I’ve ever seen,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “So, you try to do the best you can.”
Chalmers seemed to want to match Curry shot for shot, and that’s always an unwise decision. Chalmers went cold at the worst possible time (in the second quarter), and his airball came just before Curry made his eighth three-pointer.
Chalmers finished 4 of 17 from the field for 14 points. He was 2 of 6 from three-point range and 4 of 5 from the free-throw line, and went 0 of 8 from the field in the second half.
“We’re not a team — even as well as [Chalmers] played the other night — we’re not putting it all on his shoulders,” Spoelstra said. “Now, they took us out of some actions where he had to get to secondary and third actions toward the end of the possession. And they really clamped down and our execution flattened out.”
Spoelstra was quick to throw compliments the Warriors’ way, including flattering praise for Curry, but Bosh wanted none of it.
Given the chance, Bosh refused to blame the Heat’s offensive struggles on the Warriors’ superb fourth-quarter defense. The Heat shot 3 of 17 from the field and 0 of 5 from three-point range.
“I think we took ourselves out of everything,” Bosh said. “I give them credit, they did come with a good scheme, but it’s not like we made them work…We just stopped moving the ball.”
The Heat led 62-61 after the first half before falling behind by seven points near the end of the third quarter. A beautiful breakaway dunk by Heat rookie James Ennis cut the Warriors’ lead to 93-92 and then the Heat took the lead when former Heat player Shaun Livingston fouled current Heat rookie Shabazz Napier in the act of shooting a three-pointer. Napier made his three foul shots to put the undermanned team ahead 95-93 with 7:25 to play.
McRoberts then missed his free throws, and Napier tossed his pass into the seats. The Heat never got any closer. Klay Thompson drained another three-pointer for Golden State and Curry made two free throws to give the Warriors a 101-95 lead. The Warriors went 13 of 28 from three-point range.
“You’re in a position to work the last five to six minutes of the game and have a chance to win at the end and we just couldn’t sustain it,” Spoelstra said. “They started to score, and we just couldn’t sustain from there.”
Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade missed his seventh game with a sore hamstring and Norris Cole was back in the lineup, but with a splint on his left middle finger. He dislocated it last week against the Los Angeles Clippers. Cole went 1 of 8 from the field, and 0 of 4 from three-point range.