MIAMI (TNS) — Home for the holidays never sounded ... so bad.
After a whirlwind start to the season, the NBA schedule delivered the Miami Heat home for the start of a seven-game homestand Wednesday night.
Trouble is, AmericanAirlines Arena no longer is the Heat’s special place.
Instead, there now is a 4-8 home record after another troubling performance alongside Biscayne Bay, this time a 105-87 drubbing at the hands of a Utah Jazz team that had lost 12 of its previous 13 games.
It started ugly and basically got worse from there.
Down 17 at the end of the first quarter. Down 18 in the second period. Down 18 going into the fourth.
It wasn’t for a lack of desperation from Dwyane Wade, who once again fought through a stomach virus, this time to close with 42 points. But like those previous darkest Heat days during those darkest Heat years, he essentially stood alone.
The 3-point shooting was off (4-of-16). The foul shooting was off (29-of-40). The bench offered too little until too late.
And the defense served up an appetizing of open Jazz 3-point looks (14-of-25).
With Gordon Hayward scoring 29 and Enes Kanter 18, the Heat could not keep pace with a rare Western Conference bottom-feeder.
A week ago, the Heat were good enough to win in Utah (granted, when Chris Bosh still was ambulatory). This time? Not even close.
The Heat have now lost seven of their last eight home games, five by double digits. AmericanAirlines Arena has become their wasteland.
The Heat again came out flat at home, down 21-13 early and 33-16 at the end of the first quarter, when they shot only .313 to the Jazz’s 65 percent in the quarter.
The deficit reached 18 in the second period, with Utah up 55-41 at the break.
While Wade had 23 points at the intermission, the rest of his teammates combined for 18. Wade shot 7-of-10 in the first half, with the Heat bench 1-of-11 over the opening two periods, James Ennis accounting for that conversion by making his only shot of the half.
The Heat were off from all over in the first half, 0-of-7 on 3-pointers and 15-of-24 from the foul line. The Jazz, by contrast, show 8 of 11 on 3-pointers in the first half and 9-of-9 from the line.
The Heat then opened the second half with Shawne Williams in place of Justin Hamilton, with Williams opening the Heat’s second-half scoring with their first 3-pointer of the night.
Sparked by Wade, the Heat later closed within seven midway through the third quarter, before Jazz center Enes Kanter converted a 3-pointer and then a layup for a 67-55 Jazz lead.
Utah later pushed to a 77-59 lead going into fourth.
The Heat then opened the fourth quarter on a 7-0 run to close within 77-66.
But there wasn’t enough to sustain.
Earlier, after insisting that Chris Andersen’s best role with the Miami Heat was in reserve, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra changed course and started Birdman.
It was Andersen’s first start in his three seasons with the Heat and just the 11th of his 13-season career. Andersen’s last start came in 2011-12 with the Denver Nuggets, which had been his lone start over the past six seasons until Wednesday night.
Spoelstra has been forced to get creative with his lineups, with Bosh and starting power forward Josh McRoberts sidelined.
That had him starting Udonis Haslem and Hamilton in the power rotation the previous two games, before going with Hamilton and Andersen against the Jazz.
Spoelstra then opened the second half with Williams alongside Andersen, in place of Hamilton.
Spoelstra said he warned his players going in to be ready for anything.
“For us to find absolute consistency right now,” he said, “that might not be the reality. The more efficient way to do it right now is for guys to be ready for minutes and to be productive in their minutes.”
With Andersen starting, it gave the Heat their 11th different lineup in 26 games, with Andersen the 13th player of the 16 who have been on the roster this season to start at least one game.
The only Heat players yet to start a game this season are Shabazz Napier, Hassan Whiteside and Andre Dawkins, who currently is on assignment in the D-League.