MIAMI — Jimmy Butler and Udonis Haslem were shouting at each other, fingers were pointed in various directions, some Miami players were trying to play peacemaker and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra slammed a clipboard to the floor in frustration.
And that wasn’t the evening’s low point for the Heat.
The Heat fell 118-104 to the short-handed Golden State Warriors, suffering their second straight loss and the fourth in their past seven games — suddenly, Miami’s grip on the top spot in the Eastern Conference is tenuous at best.
Tempers flared on the Miami bench in the second half, when Golden State started the third quarter on a 19-0 run. During a timeout amid that Warriors’ flurry, Butler and Spoelstra had things to say to each other. Then Butler and Haslem exchanged words, both eventually needing to be held back by teammates.
After the game, it took Miami about 35 minutes to emerge from the locker room for postgame interviews, roughly three times as long as usual.
Heat guard Kyle Lowry chalked the incident up to passionate players who are frustrated with losing. Wednesday’s loss cut the Heat’s lead in the Eastern Conference race to 1½ games over Milwaukee and Boston.
“Listen, our guys really want to win basketball games and we have guys that work extremely hard,” Lowry said. “The passion comes out. The fire and the emotions come out sometimes. But like I said, to us it’s nothing. We conversated and had a conversation and we continue to build.”
Spoelstra brushed the sideline confrontations aside, saying he believes they won’t affect the team down the line.
“We have bigger things to accomplish,” Spoelstra said. “But we do want to play better. Everything else across the board. It starts with our leadership, our veteran players have to lead and then we just have to play better. We got to play more consistently, and that’s really all the discussions were. I know how it could look on the outside, but as I mentioned before, that is more our language than playing without passion or without toughness or without multiple efforts.”
Spoelstra added: “You can use moments during the season to catapult you. You can galvanize together over frustration and disappointment. Teams can also go the other way. I don’t see that with our group. I don’t see that with our locker room. But we have needed a kick in the butt.”
The Heat have one day off before returning to action Friday, when they host the New York Knicks.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.