Heat’s road strug­gles con­tinue out west

Port­land drops Mi­ami to 0-8 since its last win away from home.

The Palm Beach Post - - SPORTS - By Tom D’An­gelo Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

SACRA­MENTO — Things were a lot dif­fer­ent Jan. 29 when it comes the Mi­ami Heat.

■ Dwyane Wade was a Cleve­land Cava­lier.

■ Go­ran Dragic had yet to be named an All-Star in his ca­reer.

■ Erik Spoel­stra was only on start­ing lineup No. 14 (he still had seven he had not tried.)

■ And the Mi­ami Heat were win­ning road games.

Yes, it’s been 43 days since the Heat won a game away from Amer­i­canAir­lines Arena af­ter fall­ing to the Trail Blaz­ers 115-99 in Port­land on Mon­day. Mi­ami de­feated Dal­las that night in late Jan­uary, push­ing its road mark to 16-11.

Since, they have lost eight in a row on the road.

“We put our­selves in po­si­tion to win some of those games,” Tyler John­son said. “The way we’ve been start­ing cer­tain games or let­ting teams go on big runs has prob­a­bly been one of the big­gest prob­lems we’ve had. (Last week) Wash­ing­ton got on that huge run to start and (Port­land) went on the big run, they had one in the sec­ond

and early in the third.

“We’re putting our­selves in po­si­tion where we have to fight and scrap back the whole game. We just got to get back to the men­tal­ity of be­ing on the at­tack from the get-go.”

And the Heat (36-32) have found all kinds of ways to lose — twice in over­time, five times they had shots in the fi­nal sec­onds that could have tied or won the game, twice they climbed back out of holes of at least 19 points in the sec- ond half to get within one or two pos­ses­sions, and once they blew a 24-point lead in the sec­ond half.

In other words, if there was a way to lose, the Heat have found it on the road.

But Mon­day’s game was dif- fer­ent. Each of the pre­vi­ous eight were de­cided by sin­gle dig­its. And although the Heat ral­lied from a 19-point deficit to get to within three mid­way through the fourth quar­ter, they ran out of gas, and the Trail Blaz­ers hit the pedal to win go­ing away.

All of which is why Spoel- stra only looks at them in­di­vid­u­ally and is not look­ing to find a com­mon thread on the road.

“It’s about what hap­pened in this game, what’s go­ing to hap­pen in the next game,” Spoel­stra said Mon­day. “This wasn’t like the other ones, where we le­git­i­mately had a chance to close it out. This is dif­fer­ent.”

Mi­ami caught each of those teams — Cleve­land, Philadel- phia twice, Detroit, Toronto, New Or­leans, Wash­ing­ton and Port­land – in the midst of a play­off push and they all re­main with the ex­cep­tion of the Pis­tons, who have fallen back in the East.

But not so for tonight’s op­po­nent. The Sacra­mento Kings (21-47) have the fifth­worst record in the league and have been eliminated from the play­offs.

And while the Kings are among that group of eight teams that most be­lieve are tank­ing, they have been do­ing a bad job of it by win­ning three of their past seven.

“They are go­ing to play with ba­si­cally noth­ing to lose,” Dragic said. “They’re al­ready out. We need to take care of busi­ness and ap­proach this game like it’s a play­off game.”

An­other bit of mo­ti­va­tion: The Kings came to Mi­ami seven weeks ago with the worst record in the league and ral­lied from a 12-point deficit in the fi­nal six min­utes to stun the Heat, 89-88.

“That’s been one of the things we kind of strug­gled with, those young ath­letic teams,” John­son said. “The Lak­ers came in, kind of a sim­i­lar thing the Kings did. (We have to play bet­ter) tran­si­tion de­fense and go up to Sac and get a win.”


“The way we’ve been start­ing cer­tain games or let­ting teams go on big runs has prob­a­bly been one of the big­gest prob­lems we’ve had,” says Tyler John­son (left) about the Heat’s road woes.

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