Southeast Notes: Butler, Morris, Hachimura, Mulder

The Heat may have enough talent to challenge for an NBA title, but they’ll have to break their habit of letting big leads slip away, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Jimmy Butler addressed the topic Saturday night after Miami squandered a 16-point third quarter advantage while losing to the Wizards in a battle of two of the East’s top teams.

Most troubling for an organization built around its defensive mentality is that the Heat couldn’t stop the Wizards in the fourth quarter. Miami allowed Washington to shoot 73.3% in the final 12 minutes, including 5 of 9 from three-point range.

“I just think everybody’s got to grow up a little bit and realize, if we want to be a really good team, we’ve got to win these games, we’ve got to hold on to these leads, we’ve got to keep playing basketball the right way, keep getting stops, even when we’re not making shots,” Butler said. “Because that’s what’s going to win us a championship, on the defensive end. And if we’re making shots, great. Maybe we’ll win by a little bit more. But it we’re stopping other teams from scoring, that’s what champions are borne of.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Heat coach Erik Spoelstra provided an update on Markieff Morris, who is still recovering from whiplash after being hit from behind by Nikola Jokic, Winderman adds in a separate story. Morris didn’t accompany the team on its current four-game road trip, which means he will miss at least 10 games. “It was a very dangerous play and it’s really unfortunate,” Spoelstra said. “That’s the byproduct of those kind of dangerous actions. But he is feeling better. We’ll just continue to take it one day at a time.”
  • Rui Hachimura attended the Wizards‘ shootaround Saturday and is getting closer to making his season debut, tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic. “The fact that he was able to go through parts of shootaround today were terrific,” said coach Wes Unseld Jr. “I think it’s just another step in his ramp-up. We still don’t have a definitive timetable, but every day it seems like it’s more.”
  • Mychal Mulder, who signed a two-way contract with the Magic late last month, enjoys being with his new team, notes Matt Murschel of The Orlando Sentinel. The former Warriors guard turned in his best performance of the season Saturday night as Orlando’s reserves nearly erased a 28-point deficit in Milwaukee. “We’ve got good chemistry all around, up and down the roster,” Mulder said. “Guys love playing with each other here. We like one another. We’re a unit and we’re connected. That connectedness in our group is going to show up over time.”
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