It's a line heard often when victorious opponents talk about the Miami Heat.
"They're better than their record shows."
Are they really? The Heat did everything in their power Friday at the AmericanAirlines Arena to prove that their record is quite indicative of just how bad this team is.
The Heat couldn't get motivated, couldn't hit free throws, couldn't finish point-blank shots and they couldn't beat a Jason Williams-led Grizzlies team, losing their fifth straight 91-86. And it's looking like the Heat may have a Jason Williams of their own -- as in the projected No. 1 draft pick from Duke.
"You can't be good all the time," said former Heat forward Grant Long, one of six Grizzlies with double-figure points against Miami on Friday. "At some point you're going to have to rebuild."
Even in a rebuilding stage, Heat coach Pat Riley expects certain things from his group. Putting forth a defensive effort is one, and winning at home is another.
Against Memphis, Miami played the same quality of defense that allowed Atlanta to come back from 19 down to win Thursday. Williams, the erratic point guard whose inconsistencies got him traded from Sacramento, was one rebound shy of a triple-double, totaling 19 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds. Long was open all night and made 7-of-11 shots for 16 points, and rookie Shane Battier recovered from a scoreless first half to score 15 second-half points and put away the Heat.
"We have just become absolutely soft defensively and we don't close on shooters," Riley said. "The ball will rotate down to the corner and somebody will just watch him shoot the ball and won't rotate to him.
"That's just the way it's going, and it's a bad sign."
As is the Heat's 3-12 home record, which includes 11 losses in the past 12 home games.
"That's absolutely ridiculous for them not to be able to win enough games here at home to sort of hold, have enough enthusiasm and fire and create something here that will at least allow you to withstand poor play on the road," Riley said. "But to lose 11 out of 12 at home is even more disturbing than whether or not the team is connected. That I would have never expected."
Alonzo Mourning attempted to create some sort of energy in the first quarter after he blocked Grizzlies center Stromile Swift on a fast-break dunk attempt.
Mourning, who finished with 20 points, 12 rebounds, four blocks and six turnovers, waved his arms asking for some reaction from the crowd. The play invigorated Miami for about three minutes, as the Heat took a 10-8 lead midway through the first.
But it didn't last. Memphis took a five-point lead after the first quarter, held onto it at halftime and pulled away in the third, holding off a mild Heat comeback attempt.
Riley was out of ideas after the game.
"They want to do it," he said. "I don't have a bunch of jerks in that locker room. It's just not working. Fumbling around, stumbling around, they don't get calls after good plays. It's just not working. I think we've known that for a couple of weeks. We just hoped that it would get there somewhere. But I don't care how much you practice them, how much you rail on them, right now it's simply left to them."
Among Riley's options include massive personnel changes. But as he expressed before Friday's game, Riley doesn't want it to come to that.
"The next step is easy," Riley said. "I just don't want to get to the next step.
"I'll try to figure something out. I've been trying to jolt them for 27 games in some way, shape or form."
Noteworthy: Rod Strickland missed eight minutes in the second half because of a strained groin muscle. The point guard said it has been bothering him for some time and is a day-to-day condition.