Miami Heat gaining plenty of experience with close-game situations

 

Coach Erik Spoelstra believes his team will benefit down the line from keeping games close, even when they lose. (AP Photo)

Coach Erik Spoelstra believes his team will benefit down the line from keeping games close. (AP Photo)

The Heat have been in 21 games decided by single digits. Only the Celtics (23) have played more. Miami is 6-15 in those games.

That experience, which includes Friday’s 91-87 loss in New Orleans, can only benefit this team in the long run.

“We’ve been in so many of these games,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Our guys really care. That’s the thing I love about this group. It really matters to them and it’s disappointing when we’re not able to get the result we’ve wanted.”

The last two nights showed how those results can change from game to game.

On Thursday, the Heat trailed the Lakers by 10 in the third quarter before outscoring L.A. 33-27 in the final quarter and rallying for a 115-107 win.

The next night Miami surrendered a third quarter 14-point lead to the Pelicans, who outscored Miami 27-91 in the final 12 minutes.

“Sometimes you just have to go through it,” Spoelstra said following Friday’s loss. “Sometimes you have to go through the pain, you have to go through the emotion, you have to go through the pressure. All of those things. We’re going through it.

“It seems like we’ve had more close games than anybody in the league. Eventually you get better from that. That wasn’t the case tonight.”

    Heat center Hassan Whiteside, who was outplayed by his New Orleans counterpart, Anthony Davis, believes the team can learn from everything it is experiencing this season.

“It’s hard,” said Whiteside, who had 10 points and 18 rebounds while Davis dominated with 28 points and 22 rebounds.

“But it helps build the team, guys getting used to those close situations.”

Goran Dragic led Miami with 23 points.

Miami (10-21) has a three-day holiday break before hosting Oklahoma City on Tuesday. The Heat then plays eight of their next nine games on the road.

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