Miami Heat

Many reasons behind Warriors' loss in Miami: 'They played harder'

Many reasons behind Warriors' loss in Miami: 'They played harder'

So, what happened to the Warriors in Miami?

They were undone by a combination of factors, from the locale to the challenge of playing on consecutive nights to their tendency to saunter through the first half before unleashing the full force of their talents in the second.

From the poor long-distance shooting to the thrashing they took on the glass.

There also was the absence of Andre Iguodala, sitting on a rest night, and perhaps most of all, Heat guard Dion Waiters performing as if he were Superman.

Each of these was a factor, and the combination of challenges was too much for the Warriors to overcome in a 105-102 loss at American Airlines Arena.

“Tonight was an NBA loss on a Monday, nothing to panic over,” Kevin Durant told reporters in Miami.

“We were just a step slow.”

That they were, at both ends. The offense too often trudged about as if jogging in mud, and the defense lagged along as if affected by fatigue or disinterest.

“Give Miami credit: They played harder,” Klay Thompson said.

The Warriors (38-7) through the first three quarters were outrebounded 37-29 and outshot from 3-point distance -- their specialty -- 37.5 percent to 18.2 percent. If go into the fourth quarter shooting their average (38.7 percent) from deep, they have an eight-point lead.

Instead, they were down four, 77-73, and in need of a comeback on a night when Waiters was a force field against that possibility. He scored a career-high-tying 33 points on 13-of-20 shooting, including 6-of-8 from deep.

“You have to tip your hat to him,” Durant said of his former teammate in Oklahoma City. “He made big shots all night. He was aggressive. He had his jumper going. He didn’t hit the rim tonight; everything went straight in.”

The Warriors were down, 98-88, with less than four minutes to play before embarking on a stirring comeback to tie the game, 102-102, on a Durant dunk with 11.7 seconds left. They came alive, suddenly playing with their hair on fire.

And Waiters, who scored 24 points in the second half, poured water right on top of their heads, draining a 3-pointer with 0.6 seconds to win the game.

“We didn’t have a good effort just trying to execute the first 3[1/2] quarters,” said Stephen Curry, whose 10 rebounds were more than Draymond Green and Durant combined. “You feel like you still have a shot down seven to 10 with six minutes left.

“But when you get down like that on the road and a guy hits some tough shots like Dion did, you have to take that pill and understand we put ourselves in that position to allow those shots to effect the game. He played well, but we didn’t do anything to help ourselves the first 3[1/2] quarters.”

So ended the seven-game win streak during which the Warriors were utterly dominating, beating opponents by an average of 19.4 points per game. The usual culprit, death by turnover, is not to be blamed.

The Warriors committed 14 turnovers, off which the Heat scored 8 points, while scoring 18 points of 15 Miami giveaways.

“It was more a case of not being fully engaged defensively and on edge like we need to be,” coach Steve Kerr said.

In Miami, of all places, the Warriors strayed from their normal routine. They arrived late Sunday afternoon and did not have a shootaround Monday morning. They rested Iguodala. They missed eight free throws and 22 triples.

They found no real rhythm until the final, futile minutes.

“We just have to play from the beginning,” Draymond Green said. “I don’t think we really ever established ourselves in that game. Other than a little at the end, that was it.”

And, still, that might have been enough, if not for Waiters.

NBA Gameday: Iguodala won't suit up against Heat

NBA Gameday: Iguodala won't suit up against Heat

Programming note: Warriors-Heat coverage starts today at 3:30pm with Warriors Pregame Live on CSN Bay Area, and streaming live right here.

The last time they saw the Miami Heat, the Warriors got quite the warning. They trailed by as much as 10 points before coming back for the victory in Oakland.

It was quite clear in the postgame comments from coach Steve Kerr and the players that the Heat, regardless of their lowly status this season, never stopped competing.

The Warriors (38-6) surely will recall that when they put their seven-game win streak on the line Monday in the rematch at American Airlines Arena.

The Heat (14-30) have won their last three games, including an impressive victory over the Rockets last Tuesday.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 12

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Stephen Curry vs. Goran Dragic: Though the point guards won’t always defend each other, each serves as the igniter of his team’s offense. Both have been playing well, as Curry is coming off a 27-point effort (with seven 3-pointers) at Orlando and Dragic has scored 57 points (on 67.9 percent shooting) over his last two games.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: F Andre Iguodala (rest) and C David West (L thumb fracture) are listed as out.

Heat: G Tyler Johnson (L shoulder sprain) is listed as questionable. F Josh McRoberts (L foot stress fracture), G Josh Richardson (L foot sprain) and F Justise Winslow (R shoulder surgery) are listed as out.

SERIES HISTORY

The Warriors won the first meeting this season, 107-95, on Jan. 10 at Oracle Arena and have won five in a row and eight of the last 10.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

THE BIG MEN: Heat center Hassan Whiteside torched the Warriors for 28 points and 20 rebounds two weeks ago. He was Miami’s most effective offensive player, even as the Warriors rotated five defenders on him. Though Zaza Pachulia will again get the primary assignment, expect Whiteside to again see different looks.

KLAY’S BACK: The Warriors opted to rest Klay Thompson in the last meeting, starting rookie Pat McCaw. Well, Thompson will play tonight, and he is one day removed from drilling 7-of-9 3-pointers in the win at Orlando. Though Dion Waiters will try to match Thompson’s scoring, Miami has nobody suited to contain Klay.

BRING IT EARLY: Expecting constant defensive pressure from the Heat, the Warriors will need to summon intensity from the start or risk, yet again, having to generate a second-half comeback. It worked well on Sunday, but it’s a dangerous game to play, particularly on the road.

Warriors survive test from Heat: 'Definitely a different game'

Warriors survive test from Heat: 'Definitely a different game'

OAKLAND -- The Miami Heat these days aren’t much to look at. The megastars have abandoned South Beach, leaving the franchise to hatch anew. Yet as the brain trust eyes the future, those still in uniform play with an admirable relentlessness.

Which is exactly what the Warriors need to see and feel, as often as possible.

If the Warriors are to reach the NBA summit in June, they’re going to need plenty of experience in rugged, ugly, borderline-brutal games, such as that which the Heat forced them into Tuesday night at Oracle Arena.

Though the Warriors prevailed, 107-95, they took many blows along the way, beating back multiple rallies. Not until the final seconds were they able to exhale.

“They play hard every possession,” coach Steve Kerr said of the Heat.

“They just play hard,” Stephen Curry said. “Every possession, they were coming at you.”

For a team like the Warriors, who can get casual about their abundance of talent, being pushed and shoved and made to perspire is fabulous practice.

As is having an 11-point lead after three quarters shaved to three by the middle of the fourth.

The Warriors were put in a position where they had to execute, or else risk losing to a team that had lost eight of nine and entered the evening with an 11-28 record.

They succeeded.

“Yeah, we didn’t turn the ball over, which is helping us at least get shots on the rim,” Curry said. “We definitely had several possessions where we knew exactly what we wanted to get and we executed.

“That’ll continue to show itself as we go through the season with just our focus and just the clarity of what we want to accomplish down the stretch of games. Whether we make or miss shots, you live with that, but not turning the ball over and getting a lot of movement and not settling, that was big for us tonight.”

Kevin Durant, who scored a team-high 28 points, took note of the team’s work in the fourth quarter and came away feeling as if there is progress in an area that had been an issue in close games.

“Coach called some plays and we ran them to perfection and got some layups and got some stops as well,” he said. “It was definitely a different game, not having him out there, but we adjusted as the game went on.”

Though it may have been against Miami without LeBron James or Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh, this was no gimme. This is not a team that will be in the playoffs, but it brought intensity to everything it did Tuesday night.

And that’s enough for the Warriors to derive some healthy benefit.