CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It's becoming clear the Miami Heat will
have to defend their NBA title the hard way -- without home-court
A half-speed Dwyane Wade, a slew of injuries and off-the-court
problems have left the Heat staggering.
Gerald Wallace had 24 points and 10 rebounds to lead Charlotte
past Miami 92-82 on Tuesday night, the Bobcats' second win in three
days over the injury-plagued and turmoil-filled Heat.
The loss left the Heat three games behind idle Toronto with four
games left in the race for home-court advantage in the first round
of the playoffs.
"They see the standings and they see it's going to take a
miracle to move up," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "Maybe
subconsciously they have said, 'We're settling in right here. We're
going to have to do it the hard way.' The way we played tonight,
there wasn't a sense of urgency."
Wade, in his second game back after missing six weeks with a
separated shoulder, scored 14 points, but had uncharacteristic
trouble finishing around the rim.
"I can't jump right now. I can't explode," Wade said. "I'm
waiting for that to come back. Once my explosion comes back, my
first step comes back, you'll see a difference."
Antoine Walker had 17 points and nine rebounds for the Heat, but
got little help. Miami played without Shaquille O'Neal, Udonis Haslem and Gary Payton, while James Posey was ineffective a day after he was arrested on a DUI charge.
"We just didn't play well as a team. As far as (the arrest)
affecting me, it doesn't and it didn't," Posey said. "I went out
and played hard."
Walter Herrmann added 20 points and Derek Anderson, a member of the Heat's championship team who wasn't re-signed in the offseason,
scored 17 for the lottery-bound Bobcats, who built a 24-point
third-quarter lead and cruised to their sixth win in eight games.
On this night, the Bobcats looked like they'd be the better
"We would definitely beat somebody. We wouldn't get swept,"
Anderson said of the playoffs. "We're playing hard, we're playing
well together, we're playing well on the road, at home, all of
Wade started after coming off the bench in Sunday's overtime
loss to the Bobcats, but again looked rusty. He shot 6-for-12 and
added five rebounds, but also committed four turnovers in only 21
With Miami down big, Riley sat Wade in the fourth quarter since
the Heat play on Wednesday in Washington with a chance to clinch
the Southeast Division.
"I wasn't, under any circumstances, going to play him more than
25 (minutes)," Riley said. "But he's got to get his timing back.
I'm glad he's playing for us right now and when we get all the
parts, Udonis and Shaq back, I think we'll be a lot better than we
With little depth, the Heat were never in it against the upstart
Bobcats. They committed 22 turnovers, two nights after turning it
over 26 times against Charlotte.
O'Neal missed the game to attend his grandfather's funeral, and
the team announced before that Payton would miss two to three weeks
with a torn left calf muscle. Haslem was out with a groin injury.
Posey, who didn't start, entered the game late in the first
quarter with Miami trailing 24-18. But the Heat fell behind by 17
in the second quarter while Wade, again wearing a black sleeve to
protect his shoulder, struggled.
Wade's no-look pass for Eddie Jones on a 2-on-1 fast break
sailed off the baseline. Seconds later, Wade missed a layup over
Wallace on a 1-on-1 break. Jeff McInnis' driving layup on the next
possession gave Charlotte a 43-26 lead.
Posey finished with five points and six rebounds in 26 minutes.
Wallace, who shot 8-for-11 and had his 16th double-double,
continued his late-season surge. Wallace, who can opt out of his
contract and become a free agent this summer, is averaging more
than 28 points in his past five games.
"We were able from the start to take them out of what they
wanted to do," Wallace said. "We got them out of rhythm. We were
making shots. We forced a lot of turnovers. They just weren't able
to catch up.
In a case of bad timing, the Bobcats handed out fake
mustaches to fans in a promotion tied to F Adam Morrison. But
Morrison didn't play due to a sprained knee, and earlier Tuesday
was fined $25,000 for making an obscene gesture to a fan in Miami.
... Bobcats G Matt Carroll (back) and C Jake Voskuhl (knee) also
did not play. ... In the second quarter, referee Mark Wunderlich
turned to a fan yelling at him over a foul call and said, "What do
you do for a living?" The stunned fan didn't respond.