Fresh off their scrappy win in Washington D.C. on Wednesday night, the Miami Heat came into Minneapolis intent on getting another win streak going. On paper, playing against the 17-win, last place Timberwolves may not seem like much of a challenge, especially for a team like the Heat, but Miami knows as well as anyone that you cannot look beyond any team in this NBA because regardless of the opponent, there is no such thing as an ‘easy win' in this league.
That much was evident in the early stages of this game, as Minnesota was staying close with the Heat thanks to 7 1st quarter points from Kevin Love. A 13-4 run by Miami late in the quarter gave them their first double-digit lead, and that's what they clung to when the first 12 minutes expired. The Heat did a good job of spreading the ball around as seven different players found their way to the scoresheet.
Following an amazingly boring start to the 2nd quarter, things picked up significantly...and in a hurry. After trailing for the entire game, Minnesota started to close the gap that the Heat had been maintaining. With just under two minutes left in the half, Wesley Johnson completed a 3-point play that tied the game since it was 0-0. Shortly after that with under a minute left, Luke Ridnour drilled a tray that gave the Timberwolves their first lead of the game, a lead that they took into the break.
That late run by Minnesota may have been just what the Heat needed because they came out in the 3rd quarter and just absolutely dominated every aspect of the game. They turned up the defense and over the first 7 minutes of the quarter held the T-Wolves without a field goal, causing them to shoot 0-for 14 from the field. Miami also forced 3 turnovers and outscored Minny 25-1 during that span, taking a 23-point lead and blowing the game wide open.
To their credit, the Timberwolves kept fighting and clawing to get back into this game. They went on a 10-0 run that bridged the 3rd and 4th quarters and got them back to within 11 points of the Heat. Unfortunately for Minnesota, their poor shooting just wouldn't allow them to get back into the game and Miami cruised to a 19-point victory.
The surprise of the night came with 2:15 left in the game as rookie center Dexter Pittman, who had just recently been cleared to resume on-court workouts, checked into the game for Chris Bosh. Pittman was the Heat's first pick in last summers draft (2nd round, 32nd overall) and had been playing very well for the Heat's D-League Affiliate (the Sioux Falls Skyforce) before having surgery to repair cartilage in his right knee.
There are a lot of people who see Pittman as the center of the future for the Miami Heat, so hopefully Erik Spoelstra can get him into some games. Obviously he is well enough to play otherwise he wouldn't be out there, and apparently he is good enough to be going up against NBA competition so lets hope that he finds his way back out onto the floor in a few more games this season.
- Pittman finished with the stat line of 0 points on 0-for-1 shooting, 2 rebounds, 2 turnovers and 1 foul in 2:15 of game time.
- Miami held Mr. Double Double, Kevin Love, to 18 points and 7 rebounds.
- Mike Bibby had a solid game, finishing with 9 points, 5 boards and 7 assists. He also went 2-for-4 from downtown.
- Leading all scorers was Dwyane Wade, putting up 32 points on 14-for-21 shooting.
- Wade added 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocked shots, continuing his dominant streak of defensive games.
- Chris Bosh picked up his first double double in 3 games, finishing with 24 points and 11 rebounds.
- Martell Webster was the only player on Minnesota to score more then 20 points. Kevin Love was their highest scoring starter with 18.
- LeBron James led all players with 10 assists. He also had 27 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals and a block.
The Heat will wrap up their little 4-game road trop on Sunday night in North Jersey against the Nets. Tipoff from the Prudential Center is set for 6pm.