Schadenfreude largely has been off the menu so far this season for members of the Miami Hate, that splinter group of NBA fans who emerged last season in response to The Decision and the hubris around the Super Friends edition of the Miami Heat.
Hate-able moments are hard to come by when a team that came within two victories of winning the NBA championship starts out 8-1 in its second season since formulation. The Heat has been defending great (third in defensive field-goal percentage), scoring in bunches (first in points and shooting) with a dominant 10.1 points differential. LeBron James picked up his 33rd Player of the Week award, on the heels of his 32nd, and has doubled his post-up opportunities to produce some killer stats near the rim.
But a blast from Miami’s past cost them in their 111-107 overtime loss at Golden State and gave the anti-Heat rooters something to latch onto: A miserable fourth quarter. Leading by 17 points with 1:49 left in the third quarter, Miami went belly-up with 2-of-17 shooting in the last 12 minutes of regulation, leaky defense at the least opportune time and five of what would be 22 turnovers overall.
James also breathed some life into the old jokes (“Don’t ask LeBron to break a dollar, ‘cuz he’ll only give you three quarters”) by taking no shots in that final period. It was reminiscent of his deer-in-the-headlights moments late in The Finals last June. He went 0-for-0 in 6:34 in the fourth, while Chris Bosh was 0-for-2 and Dwyane Wade – whose 34 points were almost a bonus, given the uncertainty of his foot injury – shot 1-of-8 in the quarter.