Five takeaways: Heat embarrassed by Nets, falling behind by 38 before losing, 111-87

Miami Heat assistant coach Juwan Howard, left, holds back coach Erik Spoelstra during the second half of the team’s 111-87 loss to the Brooklyn Nets, Friday, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

MIAMI – Just when the Miami Heat start to display some consistency, start making up ground and looking as if they belonged in the Eastern Conference playoff race. …

This happens.

The Heat have had a few dreadful performances this season, but Friday’s against the lowly Brooklyn Nets was the worst among the handful of candidates. By the time the game came to its merciful end, Miami was hammered, 111-87, at AmericanAirlines Arena, a game that wasn’t even as close as the 24-point final margin indicates as the Heat fell behind by 38 points in the third quarter, their largest deficit of the season.

The frustration spilled over to coach Erik Spoelstra who, with his team trailing by 37 points late in the third quarter, stormed the court looking for foul and was hit with a technical foul.

“We all see the same thing. It’s tough to recognize the same team from the previous game,” Spoelstra said. “One game doesn’t necessary carry over to the next game. We have a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde quality to us that’s extremely perplexing. Sometimes we compete at an extremely high level, where you can see it, you can feel it. And they we have these games that are unexplainable.”

The Heat (18-17) entered the game having won 7-of-10 and were looking to go three games over .500 for the first time this season. Brooklyn (13-22) entered having lost 7-of-8 and were 5-12 on the road.

The game was over when the Nets went on a 21-2 run after falling behind by 10 early. Their lead was 59-39 at the half and 95-60 after three quarters, which matched their biggest lead after three quarters on the road in franchise history. The loss dropped the Heat to 8-9 at home.

“I’m speechless about it,” Spoelstra said about the uneven play at home. “We will keep on fighting and digging until we figure it out, I can guarantee you that.”

Josh Richardson led the Heat with 19 points. The Nets had seven players in double figures led by Joe Harris’ 21.

Here are our five takeaways from one of the worst nights in recent Heat history:

Embarrassing night: The Heat actually raced to an 18-8 lead before being outscored by an astounding 48 points over the next 2½ quarters. The Nets started with a 21-2 run and continued it by outscoring the Heat, 35-19, in the second quarter – ending with a 22-7 run – and 36-21 in the third quarter. Miami shot 17.6 percent (3-of-17) in the second quarter and ended the first half missing all but one of their 11 three-point attempts.

“I thought we started the game well especially the first quarter but then we just. … too much,” Goran Dragic said. “We didn’t look good, defense was bad, offense, too. We didn’t get back, they had open threes, it was hard to watch.”

Ice cold shooting: Just as Spoelstra started “seeing some progress” offensively, the Heat turn in one of their ugliest efforts in a long time. The Heat had their worst shooting night of the season from the field, 33.7  percent (30 of 89) and on threes, 11.5 percent, (3 of- 26). The toughest stretch was the second quarter when they were 3-of-17, 17.6 percent. The biggest culprits: Kelly Olynyk (1 of 7), Wayne Ellington (2 of 10) and Goran Dragic (3 of 12). How bad was it: Udonis Haslem had the best 3-point shooting percentage for the Heat: .500 (1 of 2).

“It was just a poor effort on all of our parts,” Tyler Johnson said. “They just wanted the game more than we did. That’s rare to say about (this) group.”

Dragic still struggling: Dragic refuses to use his sore elbow as an excuse, saying Friday “we should close that book” when asked about the injury, but the point guard has not been himself lately. Dragic scored 11 points Friday and missed all three of this 3-point attempts. Since returning from missing two games, Dragic is 14-of-45 from the field and 1-of-11 on threes. Going back even further, in his last six games, the Heat tri-captain is 2-of-18 on threes.

“We need to bring out hearts and try to compete,” Dragic said. “I think that was the main issue. They were just one step ahead of us, they were faster.”

Whiteside watch: Whiteside played 20:14 minutes in his second game after missing 13 in a row with a left knee bruise. He was Miami’s lone source of offense early, making his first four shots and scoring eight of Miami’s first 12 points. When Whiteside left the game Miami had an 18-12 lead. When he returned the Heat trailed 35-23. Whiteside finished with 17 points and eight rebounds and a block. He shot 6 of 11.

Back on the road. … briefly: The Heat hit the road again Saturday for a one-game trip up the turnpike to Orlando, the lone road game in a stretch of 7-of-8 at home. The Heat snapped a four-game losing streak to the Magic on Tuesday with a 107-89 home win. The game marks Miami’s third straight weekend back-to-back this month and the fifth time it plays on consecutive nights this season. Miami has lost both games once, won both once and split (winning the first game and dropping the second) twice. Miami then starts the New Year with three consecutive home games.

” I wish we could get out there right now,” Spolestra said immediately following the game. “I think the guys in the locker room feel that way. Nothing is guaranteed, nothing is easy in this league. So our approach tomorrow has to feel different, has to be different starting with a film session and team meeting to prepare. A normal prep that has to have a different level of urgency than what we had today.”

[Quality screening from Bam Adebayo, Kelly Olynyk helping Heat offense]

[Heat rookie Derrick Walton Jr. is running out of NBA days on his two-way contract]

[Hassan Whiteside, the facilitator? He may have to accept that role to adjust to new Heat offense]

[Sixth man Tyler Johnson making most of opportunity as Heat starter]

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