Kyle Lowry didn’t try to sugarcoat it, not that it would be possible in the wake of social media to chronicle every twist and turn of the truly bizarre scene in the third quarter of Wednesday night’s 118-104 loss on the Miami Heat bench. Golden State Warriors at FTX Arena.
“It was crazy,” said the veteran point guard.
Even this may be an understatement.
In the midst of a 19-0 tidal wave by the Warriors to start the second half, forward Jimmy Butler and captain Udonis Haslem became so hot that two of the team’s strongest players had to be physically restrained, with Bam Adebayo retreating. Started. Haslem and Dwayne Deadman are separating Butler.
And it all happened when coach Erik Spoelstra asked Butler if he wanted to fight during a vanishing moment in the huddle, with Spoelstra himself at one point leading Markiff Morris.
No, it wasn’t the Heat’s best look, as ugly as the first loss this week. The Philadelphia 76ers team lacked Joel Embiid and James Harden on Monday night, and then lacked Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Drummond Green. This defeat to the Wali Warriors team, among others.
“We’re in a situation where we have a lot of competitive people,” Lowry said, “our biggest competitor is our head coach, and Jimmy and Eudy are tough, competitive people.”
In the wake of the incident, the Heat rallied from that 19-point deficit after a 50–50 halftime tie, briefly moved into the lead, and then finished last, with four losses in their last seven games.
“We have a very competitive, great group and we were kicking our asses,” said Spoelstra, adding that the postgame media session began more than 30 minutes later than usual. “Two straight games, we weren’t playing to the level we wanted to play. And I would say that almost every single person in that mess was pretty animated in our frustration with how we were playing.
“I know how it might look from the outside, but as I mentioned earlier, it’s our language, without passion or hardness, compared to many attempts and lifeless play.”
Adebayo said it was a rare glimpse into the strength of the roster.
“We’ve got passionate players in this team, and that includes coaches,” he said. “So we’re going to have those moments when things aren’t going right and we get frustrated and explode, ’cause we’re so emotional and want to conquer that bad.
“At the end of the day, we’re brothers. We’re going to get over this. It’s us in practice. It just so happened that it boiled down to a game like that. In our practice, we get to the point where It’s like we want to fight each other when it’s crazy. But that’s just the competitive nature that we have in this team.”
Apparently the commotion started when Butler said the Heat were playing as if they were scared. It was the fuse that later ignited.
“It happens,” said Lori. “It’s just, listen, we have people who really want to win basketball games and people who work very hard. And the passion comes out, the fire and the emotion goes out sometimes. But like I said, for us It’s nothing.”
Requests for postgame comment from Butler and Haslem were denied by the team, amid the NBA’s ongoing policy of postgame locker room access that was established as part of pandemic protocols.
“Frustration sometimes arises,” Lowry said. “But I think this is a situation where it’s good to get it out of the way and then move on. We won’t dwell on it. We’ll continue to watch and see what happened and go from there.”
As Spoelstra initially tried to air the incident that it was a disagreement over postgame dinner plans, veteran power forward PJ Tucker insisted it was another ugly loss for a team with nine in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. There was nothing beyond that. Remaining games in the regular season.
“We’ve grown up, man,” Tucker said. “It’s part of the game. I’ve never been on a team that doesn’t have emotions at times. Get back together, everybody love each other, blah, blah, blah.
“I think it’s going to work on its own. We don’t have anyone that’s hard to deal with, you have a lot of other BS that keep going. I think everyone just the same time I’m trying to figure it all out, just like other teams are trying to figure it out. It’s a part of, man, the ups and downs, the valleys and peaks of the NBA season.”