Blowing big leads at home has sort of become a thing for the Heat lately.
And it cost them again Monday night.
Leading by 16 points early in the third quarter, the Heat went ice cold and seemingly spent the rest of the night arguing with officials over fouls that didn’t go their way. The Nets, meanwhile, caught fire behind Wayne Ellington and stormed past the Heat 111-105 in one of the more disappointing losses of the season for the Heat.
“I’m not frustrated, I’m more so disappointed just in the way we came out in the third quarter,” said Chris Bosh, who along with Dwyane Wade led the Heat with 24 points. “We had a chance to really show killer instinct and put this team away. … Every time we have a chance [to build off a good win], we [regress].
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“With all due respect to the Nets, there’s no way we should blow a 15-point, 16-point lead after halftime. We have to increase that because if we’re serious about being a really good team and competing, those are situations where we have to get over the hump.”
With a tough road schedule looming in January, this was supposed to be one of the easier games on the schedule for Miami. But the Nets, who came in with the third-fewest wins in the NBA, dropped the Heat (18-12) to 13-7 at home and became the third visitor in a row at AmericanAirlines Arena to erase a double-digit deficit.
Ellington finished with 26 points off the bench and matched a career high with seven three-pointers, something he did against the Heat three years ago when he was with Memphis. Brook Lopez, who scored 25 against the Heat in a 104-98 loss in Brooklyn earlier this month, led the Nets with 26 points and 12 rebounds.
On Christmas Day, Miami led New Orleans by 13 points in the fourth quarter but was forced to overtime before Bosh and Wade were able to take control again. Against Detroit on Dec. 22, Miami lost a 16-point, first-quarter lead by halftime and ended up losing 93-92 when Bosh and Wade each missed potential game-winning shots with fewer than 10 seconds to play.
Wade and Bosh each shot the ball well Monday. Bosh was 7 of 8 from the field including 5 of 5 from three-point range. Wade, who left the floor late in the fourth quarter with trainers looking at his left hip after he crashed hard on a missed layup, was 7 of 11 from the field and 10 of 12 from the line with six assists.
Now, Wade could end up missing the Heat’s next game Tuesday in Memphis. He said after Monday's loss his hip was sore but he wasn't overly concerned about it.
Since missing those shots against Detroit, Wade and Bosh have seemingly been on fire. Wade scored 24, including 12 in the fourth quarter, in Saturday’s come-from-behind win over the Magic, and Bosh scored 30 in the Christmas Day, overtime win over New Orleans and scored 24 against the Magic.
The problem for Miami on Monday? It got little elsewhere beyond Hassan Whiteside’s 18 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks. The Heat’s bench, which welcomed Tyler Johnson back but was missing rookie Justise Winslow for the first time this season, was only 5 of 26 from the field (Gerald Green was 2 of 11).
The Heat closed the first half on a 15-4 run to take a commanding 58-44 lead into the break. Wade scored 17 in the first half to lead Miami, which shot 58.3 percent. But he didn’t score again until he hit a pair of free throws with 1:50 remaining and the Heat trailing 100-91.
Coach Erik Spoelstra had called Monday’s game against the Nets critical for the Heat because of the jumbled mess of teams so close to one another in the Eastern Conference standings.
Monday’s game was the third in a series of four games in five nights for the Heat. After playing back-to-back games only twice before Christmas, the Heat will play six back-to-back sets from Christmas through the end of Jan. 26.
“Thirty games together,” a disappointed Wade said afterward. “We haven’t figured it out yet. I’m very confident this team can bounce back. We’re just not figuring out how to win consistently enough yet.”
▪ Veteran Amar’e Stoudemire, who played just three times in the Heat’s first 28 games, played for the second consecutive game and was on the floor for 14 minutes. He made one shot, a dunk, after missing his first three cracks at it and finished with three rebounds and an assists.
“I think he gives us a savviness and knows how to play,” Spoelstra said. “He just needs more minutes. Those chippies by the rim are going to turn into dunks and finishes. He feels great and he’s looked good in practices.”
▪ Winslow, who missed his first game as pro after rolling his left ankle in the fourth quarter of Saturday night’s win over the Magic, said he doesn’t expect to be out long and will be making the trip to Memphis with the Heat for Tuesday’s game.
Tuesday: Heat at Grizzlies
When/where: 8 p.m., FedExForum, Memphis, Tenn.
TV/radio: Sun Sports; WAXY 790; WAQI 710 (Spanish).
Series: Heat leads 21-17.
Scouting report: Memphis’ starting swingman Matt Barnes was suspended for two games Monday by the NBA. The Heat rallied in the fourth quarter beat the Grizzlies in Miami 100-97 on Dec. 13 and will look to sweep the season series for the sixth time in franchise history and the first since 2006-07. Memphis has gone 4-4 since losing to the Heat.