Heat keep being a team that can’t shoot straight

Dear Pat Riley,


Wait, let me rephrase that.


Because those sounds — clank! — you heard — thud! — coming from — oomph! — AmericanAirlines Arena again Sunday were, believe it or not, the Heat running their offense.

At least that’s what they call it in February. In October, they’d say they just need to shake off a few layers of rust.

The Heat didn’t just lose on Sunday against a tougher-than-advertised Los Angeles Clippers team, 100-93. They sent up a flare again for Riley, the team president, to magically pull a shooter out of the trade-deadline hat. Somehow. Anyhow.

“Teams are figuring us out,” Chris Bosh said after Sunday’s loss to the Clippers.

Figuring out they don’t have many shooters?

“The last two, three weeks, they’re paying me all kinds of attention,” Bosh said. “We were playing Houston and they were double-teaming me every play. I catch the ball ,they run a guy at me. I get an [isolation play], they send a guy at me. I mean, it’s flattering. But enough already.”

There’s a reason for this: Bosh is the Heat’s catalyst. He’s their most efficient player. He’s their best 3-point shooter. Dwyane Wade is shooting a career-low 45.6 percent. The Heat ranks 28th in 3-pointers and 29th in scoring overall.

So when Bosh makes one of his first 11 shots, as he did Sunday, the Heat is in trouble. There’s not enough offensive talent to cover for that. And when he finishes making four of his final six shots Sunday, the Heat suddenly gets some giddy-up to their game that made the finish close.

“You have to credit their defense,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “There were some open shots we all saw that missed. That happens. And their defense did a really good job of protecting the paint.”

This game wasn’t Spoelstra’s finest hour. He didn’t play Hassan Whiteside at all in the fourth quarter. That was odd. He also didn’t foul the Clippers’ woeful free-throw-shooting center DeAndre Jordan in the fourth quarter when it begged to be done.

But that’s one game. This larger issue isn’t on the roster, not the coach. He can’t turn a poor shooting team into a good shooting team. The Clippers used the other defensive strategy teams are now using against the Heat: They don’t put a big man on Bosh if he goes outside.

“Teams are starting to put their big man on Justise [Winslow] or Luol [Deng],” Bosh said.

Why? They don’t fear their outside shot much. They sag the big man a few steps off to help clog lanes. Deng shoots a respectable 36 percent from 3-pointers, but spent most of Sunday’s energy chasing the Clippers’ J.J. Redick on defense (he did have 15 points).

Winslow is shooting 26.7 percent from distance. He’s a rookie. He’ll improve. But when he hoisted a 3-point shot from the corner that sailed completely over the rim Sunday, that underlined why the Clippers weren’t too worried about him.

“That makes it harder to do some things that we want to do,” Bosh said.

Like the pick-and-roll with Bosh and a guard?

“When I roll, they’re just switching,” he said. “I got a little guy in my chest and a big guy behind. I mean, I can make a shot, but … that’s what we want on our defense. That’s what we’re trying to get teams to do.”

The Heat are a decent team. They’re in the secondary mix of the Eastern Conference. And when they’re going well, as they had by winning six of seven until Sunday, they mask their shooting problems.

Ray Allen isn’t walking in the door tomorrow, either. Riley doesn’t have any decent chips to make a trade. Minnesota’s Kevin Martin or Brooklyn’s Joe Johnson could be available if they get a buyout (needed by March 1 to be eligible to be on a playoff roster).

They’d help. But they’re not the two-way kind of player — offense and defense — that fit the Heat blueprint.

Look, the Clippers aren’t gravy. Even without Blake Griffin, they’ve won 11 of their past 13 road games. Chris Paul was 2-for-13 through three quarters on Sunday. That’s not him. He made 3-of-5 shots in the fourth quarter — including two 3-pointers — to win the day.

“Sooner or later, it’s got to go in,” Paul said.

The Heat can only hope.