LOS ANGELES — The Heat’s stay in Los Angeles was anything but enjoyable.
Miami ended its four-day stay in Los Angeles with a 98-86 loss to the Clippers (26-14) on Sunday at Staples Center. The Heat (11-28) are now 1-3 on their six-game road trip with a Tuesday matchup against the Warriors up next.
“I feel like we fought,” Goran Dragic said. “We played aggressive, but they were just better. We still need to play with our heads a little bit more. But at least, we were battling until the end.”
The Heat’s time in Los Angeles began with a 127-100 loss to the Lakers on Friday. When it was over, Miami was outscored 225-186 over two losses in a three-day span at Staples Center.
Miami had no answer for Chis Paul, who finished with 19 points and 18 assists.
Heat guard Dion Waiters was ejected with 3:09 remaining in the third quarter after picking up a Flagrant 2 for elbowing JJ Redick in the back of the head while fighting for rebounding position. It marked the first ejection of Waiters’ NBA career.
Dragic led the Heat with a team-high 24 points and five assists with the help of a 17-point second half.
“I feel like I was talking too much to the refs too much tonight,” Dragic said. “I should have just left it and just played my game. Maybe that threw me off in the first half. But in the second half, I told myself ‘Just do your job and be you.’”
Here are our five takeaways from the game …
1. Bad offense: It wasn’t a good day for the Heat’s offense. Miami scored 86 points on 36.9 percent shooting in Sunday’s loss. The first half was even worse, as the Heat scored 39 points on 30.8 percent shooting (13-of-42) over the first two quarters. This has pretty much been a season-long issue for Miami. The Heat entered Sunday’s game with the second-worst offensive rating in the NBA with 100.8 points scored per 100 possessions. With Miami’s ineffective offense, the Heat’s margin of error is very small this season.
2. Hassan Whiteside is back: After missing four games with a right retinal contusion, Hassan Whiteside made his return Sunday against the Clippers. The Heat’s $98 million center finished with a double-double, but he also looked rusty at times. Whiteside finished with 15 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks. It marked his 25th double-double of the season and his first since Dec. 23. The good news for the Heat is that Whiteside was able to play 31 minutes despite missing a week of action, and he did it without goggles.
“It shows you his talent level. Because I didn’t think he had a great rhythm and he puts up 15 and 13,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “And you could see that the rhythm wasn’t necessarily there. I think his wind was OK. There were a couple times he needed to come out of the game. But he was able to work his way through it. But he’s a presence. There’s no question he’s a presence in the paint, on the glass.”
3. Heat playing slow: The Clippers outscored the Heat 24-12 in fast-break points Sunday. This isn’t new. The Heat entered Sunday’s game with the ninth-slowest offense in the NBA with 96.98 offensive possessions per 48 minutes. There was hope in the offseason the Heat would use an up-tempo style to play to Goran Dragic’s strengths. But that just hasn’t been the case. The Heat rank 26th in the NBA with 10.6 fast-break points per game this season. Miami ranked 22nd with 11.1 fast-break points per game last season.
4. Another starting lineup: With Josh Richardson (sprained left foot) and Luke Babbitt (flu) out Sunday, the Heat threw out their 16th different starting lineup of the season against the Clippers. Miami used a starting lineup of Goran Dragic, Wayne Ellington, Rodney McGruder, Derrick Williams and Hassan Whiteside. With the Heat just 39 games into the season, that’s a different starting lineup every 2.4 games. It’s hard to build chemistry when the starting lineup is changing that much. Injuries are blame for that. 14 Heat players (including Chris Bosh) have already combined to miss 160 games due to injuries this season.
5. Can this road trip get any worse?: This season-long six-game road trip isn’t going well for the Heat. Miami is now 1-3 through the first four games of the trip with a matchup against Golden State up next Tuesday. The Warriors own the best record in the NBA, entering Sunday at 31-6. The Heat then finish the trip with a game against the Bucks in Milwaukee (18-18) on Friday. Not only has the trip included more losses than wins, the Heat also found out that Justise Winslow would undergo season-ending shoulder surgery and Josh Richardson would have to miss time due to a sprained left foot during the trip.