Thousands of miles away Tuesday night — on different coasts with different parties in the arena — the high-profile teams many keep calling the two best in basketball shared a little something.
They got comfortable, started looking past their opponents and paid a price.
The Lakers still got the win because they were playing the Timberwolves. The Heat lost because they were playing a much better Jazz team with the suddenly unstoppable Paul Millsap.
But the cause was the same. They didn’t respect their opponent. Eddie House told ESPN as much.
“For whatever reason, I don’t think we had that sense of urgency,” said Heat guard Eddie House, who missed a 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds that would have won the game in overtime. “I think we got up 20 (points) and might have just gotten bored with that process of how we got up 20.”
Heat fans seemed stunned, although their effect is cumulative after a few losses. Lakers fans have come to expect a dozen or so of these games a year, where the team just plays down to its opponents. Usually the Lakers win because Kobe does Kobe things and the Lakers eek it out (he had 33 against the Wolves). The Heat will learn that trick.
This will be the biggest challenge to Phil Jackson and Erik Spoelstra — keeping the team focused. It’s a long slog of a season and talented teams can cruise for a little bit and survive. Jackson talked about a team learning hot to win over the course of a season. The Heat need that.
But to do that, you can be taking nights off and being complacent.