While the Nets may have turned a corner on the offensive end, their defense is still proving to be a major problem–especially down the stretch of games. On Tuesday night at Barclays Center, there was not much they could do to slow down Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Wade and Bosh dug deep into their bag of tricks, scoring in every way imaginable in a 102-98 Miami Heat victory. The All-Star duo poured in 27 points apiece, and the Heat shot 54.2 percent from the field. Even though the Nets shot at a 50.7 percent clip themselves–including a season-high 20 points from Andrea Bargnani (9-of-12 shooting)–the Heat answered every Nets’ run.
“Well, Wade and Bosh got us again,” an exasperated Tony Brown said. “Down the stretch, we were trying some different things to try and slow down the momentum. Wade was able to get away in some iso situations and get off some looks, and Bosh, at the end of the second half, the isolations and open shots. It’s just hard trying to slow those two guys down.”
With the Heat up 94-93 and 1:31 left to play, Luol Deng found a cutting Wade for an uncontested layup. Wayne Ellington came to help late as Thaddeus Young got caught in a screen, and Ellington fouled Wade as the ball caromed through the hoop. The four-point lead proved insurmountable, as the Nets fell to 12-34 on the season.
“We have to be aggressive all the time, really, no matter who is in the game,” Bosh said. “The team is looking for us to be effective all the time, especially late. That’s our job.”
“A couple of those shots were superstar shots–contested high, a couple of them falling away and off the glass,” point guard Donald Sloan said. “And they were just, like I said, superstar shots. So at that point, you just want to contest and hope for a miss.”
Except they didn’t miss. Many of the same issues arose late in this one: not enough resistance on defense, stagnant ball movement, and a lack of star power. The Heat ran its entire offense through Bosh and Wade, and head coach Erik Spoelstra even opted to rest Bosh during a critical stretch in the final six minutes. The Heat coach kept one of his stars on the court at all times, however. Bosh returned following a Joe Johnson three-pointer that cut the Brooklyn deficit to one with 3:34 left.
Brook Lopez has seen a lot of the two Miami stars while playing in the same conference for eight years. According to the Nets’ big man, not much has changed. “I’d say it’s just their typical stuff,” Lopez said. “Typical CB, typical D-Wade. They just do a great job of moving the ball constantly on offense. You can tell they’re always composed, regardless of the score. They obviously come from a championship pedigree. They’ve been there before. They’re always confident in themselves and their team.”
Matters were also worsened by the Heat’s dominance in the paint. Primarily a jump shooting team, Miami managed 50 points in the paint. The Nets have now yielded a combined 110 points in the lane over the last two games. The big win over Oklahoma City overshadowed some of the defensive breakdowns, but those same issues directly contributed to the loss against the Heat.
Still, the Nets felt that they carried over some of what made them successful against the Thunder. “We’ve always seemed to play well one night–even if it’s a loss–and then come out flat the next night; or play flat and horrible one night and come out the next night and look like a completely different team,” Sloan added. “So, I thought we had a little carryover from the OKC game, which is good. We can get that going in Dallas, go in there and fight, and I think we should be able to get a win.”