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NBA notebook: Slow starts plague Heat in recent skid

Associated Press

It doesn’t take much searching to determine what has been most disappointing about the Miami Heat’s two-game losing streak.

Basketball is a 48-minute game, but the Heat may as well have earned the losses in the first quarter. They got off to slow starts in defeats to the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs.

“The tone of the game just hasn’t been adequate the last two games, giving up those type of numbers,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Typically, that’s not a good formula for us.”

Just how bad was it?

The Heat allowed an average of 38 points in the first quarter of both games. On Thursday, they were down 37-22 after the Spurs started 15-of-19 from the field. The Heat trailed all game.

“I see the opposing teams getting a lot of shots,” guard Dwyane Wade said. “Slow starts, but slower than even normal, giving up 30-something points. That’s a tough gap to put yourself in, period, but on the road, places where teams are very good, that’s going to make it tough on you.”

In both cases, the defense eventually recovered. It was just too late to overcome the early-game struggles.

“A bunch more points, way more points,” center Chris Bosh said. “I think this situation, you have to kind of look back at it. Coming into this road trip, especially against Houston and San Antonio, we knew we were playing offensive juggernauts. I think we have to be on the same page as far as what we want to do and how we’re going to do it defensively. After that, we just have to get it done.”

BUCKS FORWARD SUSPENDED — Milwaukee Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova was suspended one game without pay for punching Sacramento forward Reggie Evans in the stomach. The punch happened in the fourth quarter of Milwaukee’s 116-102 loss to the Kings on Wednesday when the two players became entangled while battling for rebounding position.

Ilyasova served his suspension Friday night when the Bucks visited the New Orleans Pelicans. The sixth-year player from Turkey is averaging 10.9 points.

RANDOLPH RETURNSZach Randolph is back in the lineup after missing the Memphis Grizzlies’ last game with the flu. The power forward sat out when Memphis lost 103-94 at Brooklyn on Wednesday night. He came to the arena in hopes of playing, but was unable to go.

Memphis coach Dave Joerger says it was “just a bout of the flu,” and Randolph played against the Chicago Bulls on Friday night. Randolph is averaging 17.3 points and 10.3 rebounds.


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