1992-93: Rice Cooks
In 1992-93 the HEAT dipped slightly to 36-46 and finished in fifth place in the Atlantic Division. The team got off to a sluggish start, logging a 13-27 record through January. Miami's early-season struggles were aggravated by the injury bug. Steve Smith missed the first 34 games of the season after arthroscopic surgery on his knee. He came back in January, but then versatile third-year man Willie Burton injured his wrist. After playing only 26 games, Burton was lost for the season.
When Smith returned the team got hot, posting consecutive winning months in February and March (including a six-game winning streak) before ebbing in April. Again, Miami managed to avoid the
prolonged losing streaks that can sink a struggling team's
On February 3 Rice poured in 45 points against Atlanta, coming within a single point of his own team record. Two weeks later Smith compiled the second triple-double in club history when he recorded 21 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds against Denver. A few weeks after that, Rony Seikaly yanked down 34 rebounds against Washington, the first 30-board game in HEAT history and the highest total in the NBA that season. And on April 8 Brian Shaw set an NBA record when he dialed long distance for 10 three-pointers against the Milwaukee Bucks, breaking the previous mark of 9 shared by Dale Ellis and Michael Adams.
Although the team was becoming more consistent, there were still up and down stretches. In March, Miami won all seven of its home games. But the year wound down on a negative note, with a five-game losing streak in mid-April. Rice averaged 19.0 points to top seven HEAT players in double figures, and his 148 three-pointers ranked fourth in the league. Despite its sub-.500 record, the team was seen as an up-and-coming collection of young talent, with better