After losing their last four games, including a 36-point loss in Houston Saturday, the Miami Heat needed to turn things around quick before a difficult five game West coast road trip starting Thursday.
After leading the whole game, the Heat got the spark they needed from their stars late in order to get a big win over Brooklyn Sunday in Miami, 88-84.
The game started slow offensively for both teams with the first basket not coming until over two minutes into the game. Chris Bosh came out firing with eight points in the first quarter, making all three of his attempts, including one three pointer. Dwyane Wade struggled to find his shot early, but still got involved, adding four points, three rebounds, and two assists in the quarter.
Miami took the lead and never looked back, which was a welcome sight to Heat fans, as one of Miami’s biggest problems has been starting well and finishing poorly. Miami led, 30-21, at the end of the first quarter while getting to the costless throw line 11 times, the team’s most attempts in any quarter this season.
Danny Granger was the first man off the bench for Miami, but Hassan Whiteside was the most productive. His presence could be felt on both ends of the floor, as he tallied five points, four rebounds, and two blocks in just six minutes of action early on. Whiteside continued his excellent play through the second quarter, blocking his third shot of the game, as well as showing his offensive potential with an offensive rebound and nice hook shot in the lane. The highlight of the first half may have been Whiteside’s ferocious dunk after a steal and great pass from Wade to set him up nicely.
Wade’s shooting struggles continued, but he still found ways to stay involved. He impacted the game on defense with two steals and facilitated the offense most of the first half, racking up six assists to go along with seven points.
Bosh continued scoring in a variety of ways and in a very efficient manner. He shot five of six from the field, including two three pointers and was hitting all of his shots in the post on his way to 13 first half points.
Miami led Brooklyn, 49-40, at halftime, with Whiteside having the biggest impact on the game, scoring nine points, with seven rebounds, two blocks and one steal in 13 minutes off the bench. Deron Williams led Brooklyn with 11 points, two rebounds, three assists, and one steal in 11 minutes off the bench.
The second half started off much faster than the first with both teams trading baskets early. Bosh slowed down, but Wade picked up the slack, making four of his first five shots for eight points in the third quarter.
Luol Deng could never quite get into a rhythm, as he was tasked with trying to slow down Joe Johnson. Johnson scored eight points and was the primary option on offense in the third, causing Deng to pick up two quick fouls and forcing Danny Granger to play 30 minutes on the night.
As the third quarter winded down, Miami’s offense grew very stagnant. Other than a three pointer from Bosh, the ball was sticking and shots were being forced late in the shot clock, culminating in a shot clock violation on the team’s last possession of the quarter. Brooklyn couldn’t take advantage, and the third quarter ended with Miami leading, 64-59.
The fourth quarter was a quarter of runs early on. Miami scored the first four points, only to be answered by five straight points from Brooklyn. Joe Johnson was getting the ball in isolation and in the post, creating problems for Miami, and Brook Lopez, who had been quiet for most of the night, came alive in the fourth scoring 12 of his 16.
One of the biggest plays of the fourth quarter came from the two youngsters on the floor for Miami. James Ennis made a spin move and found Whiteside under the hoop for the easy basket in a play Heat fans hope to see more of in coming years. Whiteside finished with his best game of the season, scoring 11 points, grabbing 10 rebounds, one steal, and five blocked shots. Beyond the blocks, his mere presence on the floor made an impact on defense.
Wade hit a jumper at the 5:30 mark of the fourth and then banked in a shot while getting fouled to add three more points on the next possession. After converting two more costless throws later in the quarter, Wade had scored 10 in a row for Miami, giving them an 86-80 lead.
The game became closer than it should have in the finals seconds of action, but Chris Bosh sealed the victory with two clutch costless throws.
The game ended with a final score of 88-84, snapping Miami’s four-game losing streak, as well as Brooklyn’s three-game winning streak. Bosh finished with 26, and Wade finished with 25, combined for 51 of Miami’s 88 points.
Miami will not play at home again until January 20th, so this was a much-needed win before hitting the road. When asked about the game and importance of the win in an interview with Jason Jackson after the game, Bosh said, “It wasn’t easy. Every game we get is going to be very difficult. We had a lead for a majority of the game because of defensive intensity and sharing the ball on offense." He continued, "We need that momentum before we hit the road. We’re miserable right now.”
The win over Brooklyn brings Miami’s record to 15-20 and keeps them in eighth place in the Eastern conference. Miami’s next game is in Portland Thursday night against the Trail Blazers, in the first of five games in seven days on the West coast.