Heat’s road struggles continue out west
Portland drops Miami to 0-8 since its last win away from home.
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.