The Miami Heat responded well to their first loss in nearly a month.
“We lost a game,” forward Udonis Haslem said after a tough 98-96 home defeat to Seattle on Monday. “We hate losing any game, but we had a great run and now we’ve got to put another one together.”
The Heat will try to get another run started when they take on the visiting New York Knicks.
Miami had won a franchise-record 14 straight games dating to a 104-95 setback at Denver on Dec. 4. The Heat nearly pulled out another one Monday, but Eddie Jones missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer with less than a second to play.
Dwyane Wade scored 23 of his 28 points in the second half and Shaquille O’Neal finished with 25 points, 14 rebounds and a season-high seven blocks for Miami, which failed to achieve the first 15-game winning streak in the NBA since O’Neal and the Los Angeles Lakers did it in 2000.
“I’ll take 14 out of 15 any day of the week, any week of the month, any month of the year, any year of the century,” O’Neal said. “I don’t know what comes after century.”
The Heat, who have not lost consecutive games since Nov. 11-12, own the best record in the Eastern Conference.
“I didn’t think we were going to win 50 in a row,” Heat coach Stan Van Gundy said. “It’s disappointing to lose the way we did.”
Wade was named the East’s player of the month Tuesday after averaging 23 points, 7.7 assists and 5.9 rebounds during Miami’s brilliant December. He recorded his first career triple-double and just the fifth in franchise history with 31 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds in Thursday’s 88-79 win over Detroit.
Wade scored at least 20 points in 12 games, including a career-high eight straight to close the month.
After closing December with three straight victories, the Knicks have opened 2005 with consecutive losses, including Tuesday’s 105-98 setback to visiting Sacramento.
Prior to the game, team president Isiah Thomas said he was more than happy with the way his team has performed this season. The loss dropped the Knicks’ record to 16-15, though they still lead the weak Atlantic Division.
“Unfortunately, that’s the cycle of the climb,” Thomas said. “You don’t go from the bottom to the top. There’s always intermediate steps. Right now, we’re probably what our record indicates—a little bit better than .500, a little bit above average, but I don’t think we’re at the top of the league or the top of the climb.”