The Miami Heat were embarrassed after getting routed in their season-opener, but not discouraged. Now they hope to play more like the defending world champions they are.
Miami tries to rebound Friday when it hosts the New Jersey Nets in a rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Heat (0-1) suffered the worst opening-night defeat ever by a reigning titleholder Tuesday with a 108-66 loss to Chicago. Miami got outplayed in nearly every facet of the game as it turned the ball over 23 times—leading to 32 points for the Bulls—and suffered a 49-29 rebounding disadvantage.
The Heat never recovered after a 37-14 Chicago run during the second quarter.
“It was not much fun playing in the game, obviously, after we got down by 20, 25 in the second quarter,” Heat coach Pat Riley said. “It made for a very long night for us and for the fans. It was an absolute terrible display of basketball. There’s really no excuses. You can use whatever you want, but there aren’t any.”
The players weren’t looking for excuses the following day, instead asking Riley for a long practice after watching tape of the debacle.
“We went through a lot of discussions, from coach to player and from player to coach,” said Heat guard Dwyane Wade, who had 25 points in the loss—the only Heat player in double figures. “Coach told us to go home, but we felt we needed practice today and certain guys said they wanted to practice, so we came up and did it. Long day, but hopefully we got something out of it.”
The Heat beat the Nets in five games in last season’s conference semifinals en route to their first NBA championship. It was the second straight year Miami knocked the Nets out of the playoffs.
However, New Jersey (1-0) played much better than the Heat in this season’s opener. The Nets shot 51.3 percent from the floor and outrebounded Toronto 52-38 on Wednesday in a 102-92 victory.
Veteran point guard Jason Kidd recorded his 76th career triple-double with 14 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds, and needs two more triple-doubles to tie Wilt Chamberlain for third place on the all-time list.
“Getting rest definitely helps,” said Kidd, who played 34:30 on Wednesday, about three minutes fewer than his average from last season. “That’s my goal this year. If I have the rest I can be strong in the fourth quarter to continue that push and keep the game at the speed we want to play.”
First-round draft pick Marcus Williams scored seven points and grabbed eight rebounds in more than 23 minutes of play Wednesday, while giving Kidd time to rest.
Vince Carter had game highs with 25 points and 11 rebounds, and hopes to continue his strong play against the Heat. The swingman averaged 38.5 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.5 assists in four regular-season meetings with Miami last season—three of them New Jersey victories.
The Nets will again be without Clifford Robinson, who is serving the final game of a five-game suspension for violating the NBA drug policy during last season’s playoffs.
The Heat have won five of the last six regular-season matchups between the teams in Miami.