In what is quickly becoming something between self-parody and performance art, the Miami Heat lost another close game to a great opponent, dropping Sunday's matinee against the Chicago Bulls 87-86. The Heat had two chances to win the game in the final five seconds; Miami was a league-worst 1-14 on game-tying or go-ahead shots inside of 10 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter or overtime coming into the game. They are now 1-16.
That'd be a tough lay-up that LeBron James can't make and a turnaround baseline jumper Dywane Wade can't hit. Anyone can see that those are tough shots, even ignoring the score and the time on the clock. Those are tough shots. That begs the question: why can't players this good, a team this talented get better shots at the end of games? I mean, you have LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and we're still doin' the old Mike Brown vintage high pick-and-roll to get a switch? We're still counting on the referees to blow that whistle with seconds left?
It didn't happen, and the Heat were lucky to get a second opportunity, because this team is usually terrible on the offensive glass. That's because Chris Bosh has become one of the team's more reliable shooters, so he hangs out at the elbow extended much of the time. The Heat's second big man is never that good, leaving the offensive glass the responsibility of LeBron and Wade, who have a responsibility to get back on defense.
The late game anti-heroics shouldn't mask the wonderful performances from Derrick Rose (27 points, 12-23 shooting) and Luol Deng (18 on 7-15). Deng, in particular, has been the unsung hero of this marvelous Bulls team, and deserves that first-team All Defense spot that'd normally be reserved for LeBron. He's been superb (even though LeBron has too, frankly).
The Bulls now have two fewer losses than the Heat, and Miami is 0-4 on their rollicking 11-game spell against good teams. The Blazers visit on Tuesday, but you'll be forgiven if you look ahead to Thursday's match-up with the suddenly hot Lakers.