The Miami Heat keep finding new and interesting ways to lose.
Having blown double-digit leads in three of their last four losses, Miami spotted themselves 12 points Sunday afternoon before Chicago took a 6-point lead early in the fourth quarter and eventually won 87-86.
It seemed once again that the Heat would fold in crunch time, but they managed to regroup and very nearly reversed their recent script, erasing a six-point deficit in the final minutes to take the lead with 25 seconds left.
Once again, though, they could not hold on. Chicago regained the lead on two Luol Deng free throws following a loose-ball foul called on Mike Miller with 15.9 seconds to go.
With one final attempt to take the lead, Miami failed to score in the closing seconds, as they so often have throughout the season. James missed a layup attempt that was excellently-defended by the Bulls' Joakim Noah, and Dwyane Wade then missed an off-balance jumper on the rebound.
The ending left some Heat players in tears after the game.
Previously, the Heat were 1-of-14 this season on shots to tie the game or take the lead in the last 10 seconds of the 4th quarter. That number now stands at 1-of-16, or 6.3%. Some commentators have suggested this is because the Heat lack "clutch genes," though scientists will remind you that no such gene exists.
Having played with a target on their chest thus far this season, the Heat have somehow played themselves into underdogs despite having two of the five best basketball players on earth in their lineup. If Miami fails to win a championship in 2011 (as delusional as it may be to suggest that would even be possible), today's game could very well be labeled their nadir.
David Hill is a Miami native and former owner of a youth replica Rony Seikaly jersey.