HEAT

South Florida Sun-Sentinel Palm Beach (Sunday) - - SPORTS -

after giv­ing up 41 first-quar­ter points.

Heat coach Erik Spoel­stra in­sisted be­fore the game the is­sue would be ad­dressed, then ex­pe­ri­enced oth­er­wise.

He again in­sisted that the league’s free­dom-of-move­ment rules can­not be tol­er­ated as an ex­cuse for such to­tals.

“I don’t even care any­more. I’m tired of talk­ing about it,” he said. “Ei­ther you are go­ing to find a way to be suc­cess­ful, or you’re go­ing to make ex­cuses and com­plain about it.”

Ul­ti­mately, it re­mains a work in progress.

“You have to build a sys­tem, that you’re ac­count­able to,” he said. “And we have a sys­tem in place where guys know what they’re re­spon­si­ble for. It’s not easy. It’s not sup­posed to be easy in this league. It’s best teams in the world, the best play­ers in the world. But there’s al­ways a way to

get the job done.”

The Heat ’s in­ef­fi­ciency reached the point where Kelly Olynyk was pulled less than two min­utes into the se­cond half in fa­vor of the speed of Der­rick Jones Jr.

2. Josh Richard­son, again: Richard­son con­tin­ues to thrive as a lead scor­ing op­tion, eclips­ing the ca­reer high of 31points he reached Mon­day in the loss to the Sacra­mento Kings.

Richard­son did it from dis­tance, as well as by get­ting to the foul line, with no hes­i­ta­tion about launch­ing when open.

Also, amid an un­even start to the sea­son, John­son broke out with a 15-point se­cond quar­ter, which ac­counted for all of his first-half scor­ing. John­son’s sin­gle-game sea­son high prior to Satur­day had been 12 points.

3. The Trae Young im­pact: While there was some con­ster­na­tion with the Hawks mov­ing for Young in their draft-night trade with Dal­las for Luka Don­cic,

Spoel­stra sug­gested the Hawks may have found a suc­ces­sor in the NBA lin­eage of Steve Nash and Stephen Curry, at least stylis­ti­cally.

“Re­ally skilled,” Spoel­stra said of the point guard who was up to 20 points and 13 as­sists by the end of the third pe­riod. “It shouldn’t be a sur­prise, I guess, be­cause of the Steph Cur­rys and Steve Nashes, and how younger play­ers are com­ing into this league with a re­ally great skill set to be able to han­dle, go wher­ever you want to with the bounce, to be able to de­liver passes in crowds and to have range that he has.

“There are more and more play­ers that have that skill set. But it’s cer­tainly unique for a young player.”

It’s also a skill set the Heat lack on their ros­ter.

4. Winslow starts: Winslow started at point guard in place of Dragic. Al­though the Heat uti­lized a va­ri­ety of ball­han­dlers and played Winslow de­fen­sively at times at for­ward, he closed the

first half with six as­sists, twice as many as any team­mate.

The of­fense was a roller­coaster. He missed his first four shots, with his first bas­ket com­ing with 10:27 to play in the fourth quar­ter, on a six-foot soft jumper. But he took over from there, in help­ing the Heat rally.

5. Elling­ton re­turns: Wayne Elling­ton made his sea­son de­but when he en­tered with 1:02 left in the open­ing pe­riod, hav­ing ini­tially missed time with an­kle pain. He promptly con­verted his first 3-point at­tempt.

But as was the case dur­ing last sea­son’s play­off se­ries against the Philadel­phia 76ers (and be­fore), the Hawks then made his de­fense a fo­cus of their at­tack. It is a trade­off that will be worth mon­i­tor­ing when it comes to Spoel­stra’s ap­proach go­ing for­ward, par­tic­u­larly when Dragic re­turns.

iwin­der­man@sun­sen­tinel.com. Fol­low him at twit­ter.com/ira­heat­beat or face­book.com/ira.win­der­man

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