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.
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