Defensive issues becoming a growing concern for Miami Heat

Shandel Richardson

After losing five of six games, the Miami Heat have finally pinpointed their issues.

The Heat have allowed at least 105 points in each of the losses, including Thursday's 129-124 defeat against the Atlanta Hawks.

"It's in our minds, I think," forward Jae Crowder said. "We have to focus in on closing games out and doing it on the defensive end. I feel like we have enough scoring in the locker room but we've got to find a way to be on the same page defensively from top to bottom, all five guys on the court."

The Heat are just 11-12 in their last 23 games, with defense being the main concern. Led by guard Trae Young's 50 points, the Hawks shot 48 percent and made 16 3-pointers.

"It's consistency," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Look, we gave up 60 points in the first half. The second half, disposition was much better and it just shows you how tough it is to win regardless of who you're playing, particularly on the road. We've got to do a better job. It would've required a 48-minute game of effort and concentration like we showed in that second half."

With the loss, the Heat are now just a half game ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers for the No. 4 spot in the Eastern Conference standings. They have consecutive games against the Cleveland Cavaliers Saturday and Monday.

"We've got nothing but time," guard Jimmy Butler said. "It's coming to an end very soon but I'm confident in our group. We know what we're capable of. It's a bump in the road. We'll figure it out." 

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