Sun, May 28, 2006 - Page 24 News List

Modern technology makes reason for loss very clear

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , MIAMI

Heat coach Pat Riley signals from the sidelines in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final against the Detroit, Pistons at the Palace in Auburn Hills, Michigan, Thursday.

PHOTO: AP

Pat Riley is a paint-by-numbers guy.

He has always seen the picture, broken it down scientifically, then presented his findings to his players so they could give him a better picture in the next game.

The only difference over the years -- from his start as an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Lakers in 1979-80 to being head coach for the Miami Heat now -- is the technology.

He has gone from working with tapes that went blank when he rewound them to having a computer operations room with a staff, which isolates mistakes from every angle and quantifies them on a spreadsheet.

The result from 25 perspectives told the same story about Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals Thursday, when the Detroit Pistons won, 92-88.

The Heat lacked effort.

"We were down 17 percent across the board, effort and defense, from the first game," Riley said Friday after a film session and a brief practice.

It would have been worse if the Heat -- led by Dwyane Wade -- had not scored 17 points in the final 1 minute 46 seconds and nearly pulled off a remarkable comeback. But for Riley, the numbers do not lie.

"In the fourth quarter last night, we had an 80 percent effort and we had an 87 percent in the fourth quarter in the first game," he said, citing the Heat's 91-86 victory Tuesday in Game 1. "In the first quarter, we had 57 percent, and then 65 percent. You ain't going to win with that."

That was the lesson Riley gave his players during the film session, in preparation for Game 3 on Saturday.

"We had a lot of video, and he just told us we got to have a lot more effort," the backup point guard Gary Payton said to sum it all up.

He was part of the role-player problem for the Heat, shooting 1 for 6 from the floor. The starting forward Antoine Walker shot 3 for 12 (1 for 7 from 3-point range) and scored 11 points. Udonis Haslem, also a starting forward, shot 1 for 5. The starting guard Jason Williams was 3 for 8, scoring seven points.

Only Wade and Shaquille O'Neal had dominant games, combining to shoot 20 for 36 for a total of 53 points.

"We have to get it going," Payton said. "But our first unit has to get it going, too, and when we go in there, we have to keep the momentum up."

Riley said he was disappointed that his team did not have the energy it had in the first quarter of Game 1, when the Heat shot 15 for 18. The Pistons, sensing they needed to tie the series before heading to Miami for Games 3 and 4, led by as many as 14 points in the first quarter of Game 2.

"It's a subconscious thing more than anything else," Riley said. "Our players came knowing they had a chance to put them and their backs to the wall. It's human nature; I've seen it throughout my career. I had a hard time accepting it, and when I presented the numbers today, they said, `Wow, no wonder we didn't play well."'

Riley said there were subcategories of effort and "super effort," in which the Heat did not perform well for Game 2. That is no surprise, considering they committed 18 turnovers -- nine by Wade.

"If we're over 75 percent effort and over 73 percent defense, we'll win 83 percent of the games," Riley said. "In my career, that's how I measure effort and defense, and if you meet these criteria every night, regardless of how you are offensively, you have a chance to win. And if you have a great offense with those numbers, you never lose."

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