Reporters could almost see the steam billowing off of LeBron James Saturday night. James was short with his answers to the media after the game. The two-time champions had just fallen to the New Orleans Pelicans. James stated that he was sick and tired and couldn’t stand the excuses the Heat had been giving for their struggles.
The Heat lost to the Pelicans 105-95. This was the seventh loss of the month for the champs. As teams prepare for the playoffs this is no way for any team, much less the defending champs to get ready for the “real” season, as the playoffs are known.
James kept it short and sweet, blasting his team’s ability to make excuses over their inability to make a shot or grab a rebound.
Forward Chris Bosh kept it even shorter, simply saying that the Heat suck. Many in the league have little sympathy for the champs given their dominance down the stretch of the last two seasons on their way to back-to-back Larry O’Brian trophies.
The Heat’s struggles are real but not surprising. In the past, the team has expressed concern over their lethargic play during the regular seasons. That lethargic play sometimes manifests during games against teams on their way to the lottery. It can be confusing to tell at times are the Heat just bored or is there a real chink in the armor? Is this the year they get knocked out of the playoffs?
Some of the Heat’s notable losses this month reads like a “who’s who” of the upcoming NBA draft. There were the Boston Celtics (23-47), Denver Nuggets (31-38) and the Pelicans (29-40). None of those teams had been burning up the league prior to their matchups with the Heat. What they brought to the court however, are lots of energy and teamwork. Theses are the two things missing in the game of the Heat.
James is definitely a player who feeds off energy and momentum; Miami can be unstoppable when they can convert off the fast break. But with no energy to push the ball and defend they look completely beatable. James and the Heat have to make a stand and can’t take anything for granted.
One of the reasons that New Orleans was able to prevail was due to the strong play of Anthony Davis. His 30 points, 11 rebounds along with 3 steals put a stamp on the win. He set a franchise record with three straight 30 point, 10 rebound games. Davis is in his second season in the league and has established himself as a force to be reckoned with.
LeBron James did play with the same back soreness that has plagued him for good parts of the season and he even twisted his ankle on a drive to the hoop during Saturday’s game. But he refused to use the injuries as excuses. At the thought of taking some time off, James scoffed. Stating the real and true fact that there is no time to take off with the playoffs looming. What will be very important for the Heat is finding the continuity of playing well together. Dewayne Wade has been rested quite a bit this year. It had been so much of an issue that James admitted his own rhythm had been off playing with Wade. Some way, some how the Heat have to gel or else the Indiana Pacers or even the Chicago Bulls will put the champs down. That would be a nightmare for the “King.” In the meantime, James is in a “no excuse zone” and he can’t stand the Heat and their poor play.
Editorial by Tony Bowers
The Sporting News