In this game, you could see signs that it was something more. The Heat never really competed until LeBron James tried a last-gasp run on his own in the fourth quarter. Their pressure defense was nullified by all of Utah's flex sets, which kept the ball moving on the perimeter and prevented the Heat from unleashing their traps on pick and rolls. It was only late in the game that Miami got its pressure going, and by then, it was too late.
Without their pressure defense, the Heat's rebounding problems are magnified. They can live with being outrebounded if they're forcing turnovers and getting easy shots, but 14 turnovers isn't going to fix a 17-rebound margin. Whether the Heat needs to double down on their pressure or adjust their style to make it easier to rebound remains to be seen, but they need to pick one.
All that said, I'm still not panicking. This is a long season, and this team has coasted during the regular year in the past. Playing in Utah is never easy, and this Jazz team is an especially tough matchup because of the way they avoid pick and rolls and crash the glass. With the East being so bad, I can understand Miami having trouble getting motivated to play. When they get back home, I think they'll pick things back up.
The Jazz got big contributions from Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks in this one. All three have had their moments at home, but haven't been able to put it together for long enough stretches. Maybe this is finally the time where it all comes together.
I mean ... my god.
I know the Hawks are struggling, but this was horrible. In many ways, it was all of Atlanta's problems rolled into one. The Hawks have stopped getting to the free-throw line, slowly stopped defending at an elite level and stopped executing their offense crisply. Josh Smith is launching terrible shots, Al Horford has been silent and Jeff Teague hasn't been able to use his speed in a productive way. You saw signs of these shortcomings in previous games, but they all bubbled to the surface against a really physical Chicago team.
This could have been really bad for DeMarcus Cousins. He was called for the kind of technical foul that only he gets called for in the third quarter, but he regained his composure and led the Kings to the win in an entertaining fourth quarter. Twenty-six points, 14 rebounds and six assists is pretty nice
The lesson here: the Clippers are incredibly deep, and the Grizzlies are not. You could easily say this was a preview of what life after Rudy Gay might be like if he's not adequately replaced in a trade.
There are some games where the Thunder can win with two players doing anything offensively. This was one of those games. Kevin Durant had 41, Russell Westbrook had 36, and that was enough. Oh, and Durant also did this:
This one got boring pretty quickly. Credit to the Celtics for jumping on Charlotte early.
Break up the Wizards! They've now won three in a row, and they're doing it the way their front office always hoped they would: play good defense, get the rebound and run like hell. John Wall has looked very good in this style, but the Wizards are running even with A.J. Price in the game. It's a commitment to running that we haven't seen much of around the league.
The Magic, meanwhile, have lost 11 of 12. Their only win is on the road against the Clippers. Go figure.