Advertisement

Another crash and burn for Heat offense, losing streak at three after falling 105-87 in Orlando

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Miami Heat’s offense has fallen, and it can’t get up.

Unable to either control or shoot the ball, Erik Spoelstra’s team fell to its third consecutive loss Sunday night, this time a 105-87 setback at the hands of the Orlando Magic at Kia Center.

Shooting .375 from the field and committing 18 turnovers, the Heat continued their slide to the bottom of the league in offensive efficiency.

Not only has the shift into the starting lineup of forward Nikola Jovic stopped producing results, but the Heat now have lost both games since point guard Kyle Lowry was shifted to a reserve role.

While there were sparks of individual offensive output from the Heat, including 10 third-quarter points from Jimmy Butler, it all too often was a scramble for anything cohesive, with three shot-clock violations during the first three quarters.

Spoelstra hardly needed the latest struggle to convince him what was wrong.

“We just need to get back on track,” he said. “We were trending in a better direction in December and it’s a matter of being collectively intentional, every single possession, every single game, and we get off track from intentionality and away from out strength zones, which at this point in the season, we know what out identity is, we know what out strength zones are.

“The competition will have something to say about that. But it’s proven to be costly to us when we stray away from there.”

And so, the first three-game losing streak since losses to the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks in late November, the Heat 5-7 in their last 12, with challenging games ahead this week against the Boston Celtics and Knicks.

On a night of limited offense, the Heat got 22 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists from Bam Adebayo, 15 points from Jimmy Butler and 12 from Tyler Herro.

The Magic got 20 points and 10 rebounds from Paolo Banchero.

Five Degrees of Heat from Sunday night’s game:

1. Game flow: The Magic led 22-19 at the end of the first quarter, then trailed 48-46 at halftime.

Orlando then put together a 14-2 run midway through the third period to move ahead 73-58, before closing the third period up 81-69.

The Magicpushed their lead to 100-78 before Butler returned in the fourth quarter with the Heat down 100-78.

Spoelstra then began pulling starters with 3:35 left and the Heat down 104-81.

2. The Lowry angle: For the second consecutive game and only the second time this season, Lowry again was cast in a reserve role by Spoelstra.

Spoelstra took time pregame to detail the decision.

“I’m going with this right now,” Spoelstra said. “I think this is an interesting direction and I’ll do whatever we feel that we have to do in the second half of the season. We are not where we want it to be.

“That’s not an indictment of one player. Kyle has been great, as a starter and really last year off the bench. So this isn’t really about him. This is about us trying to get to a higher level.”

Spoelstra cast the decision as more of a chemistry consideration.

“Combinations do matter,” he said. “Rotations do matter. Lineups that bring out the best in each other do matter. And I’m still in the process of trying to help the team figure it out.”

3. So, one more time: And with that, Spoelstra rolled out the same lineup that opened in Friday night’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks at Kaseya Center, one that featured Lowry, Adebayo, Nikola Jovic, Butler and Caleb Martin.

It was the 10th consecutive start for Jovic, who until mop-up duty played only his opening stints in the first and third periods, scoreless in those 11 minutes on 0-for-3 shooting.

4. Full bag: Despite the size differential, Butler took the opening assignment on Banchero, and then took his own game outside, including converting a pair of 3-pointers at the outset of the second half, after hitting one in the first half.

At that stage, Butler was 3 of 3 on 3s, the rest of the Heat 6 of 22 from beyond the arc.

5. Pushing through: Adebayo was up to a double-double entering the fourth quarter, up to 16 points and 10 rebounds. That gave him his 12th double-double in the past 15 games.

But not even his high volume of shot attempts was enough to offset what the Magic got from their big men.