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Erik Spoelstra says Heat made strides on road trip
PHOENIX – Even before the Miami Heat took the court for Saturday’s 97-88 victory over the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center to complete their six-game trip, coach Erik Spoelstra deemed it a step forward for his team because it presented his players with the opportunity to test themselves.
“That’s what happens when you go on the road for an extended period of time,” he said.
“The challenge we had was six games in nine days, playing in different time zones, and playing against very good basketball teams. So it’s forced us to have to be able to respond to a lot of those tough times.
“That’s why the Denver game was good to see. It was a character game, guys out. All the excuses could have been made, but we found a way to get out of that town with a win.”
The Heat began the trip with guard Dwyane Wade sidelined for the victory over the Atlanta Hawks because of a virus.
Then there was a blowout loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, a LeBron James-fueled escape against the Houston Rockets, a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers and then Thursday’s victory against the Denver Nuggets that came with Wade sidelined by a sprained left foot and point guard Mario Chalmers lost in the first quarter with a triceps injury.
Wade remained sidelined Saturday, with Chalmers back in the starting lineup. James found himself dealing with flu-like symptoms on Friday night, but was in Saturday’s lineup.
By Ira Winderman