Written by: Ira Winderman
Erik Spoelstra went into Saturday night’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers at AmericanAirlines with the simplest of goals.
“We want to play well in front of our fans,” the Miami Heat coach said. “We owe them a much better and much more competitive disposition in a full, complete game for 48 minutes.”
He didn’t get anything close to that, in an uneven performance that saw his team fritter away an 11-point lead in what turned into a 90-85 victory of survival.
But you take it, .378 shooting and all, and move on, with the victory pushing Spoelstra past Pat Riley into first place on the Heat’s all-time coaching victory list, at 455.
“I thought that it would be most fitting to go retro and have an old-school Miami Heat game in honor of Coach Riley,” Spoelstra said. “This is the type of game he probably enjoys the most: You win shooting 37 percent. I think we scored too many points this game.
“But those are the old-school, tough, grind-it-out, find-any-way-as-a-competitor to win the games. That’s in honor of my mentor and my coach. He’s still my coach.”
Few of Spoelstra’s victories were as uneven and trying as this one, not decided until a missed 3-pointer by Jamil Wilson in a three-point game with 9.7 seconds to play.
“Our guys really wanted to play well here at home, and put together a real 48-minute performance for our fans,” Spoelstra said, reiterating his pregame thoughts. “It didn’t necessarily turn out that way. But I like our guys having to go through those emotions and have to grind out through adversity, some frustration, things not going your way, and have the mental perseverance just to find any way to guy it out and get a win.