Hassan Whiteside owned the spotlight Tuesday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Wolves exposed the Miami Heat center's greatest strengths and weaknesses. His amazing 22 points, 14 rebounds and 10 blocks, his second career triple-double, caused problems for the Timberwolves all night long. So much so that Sam Mitchell had to to do something no team ever has against Whiteside: Hack a Hassan. The inability to knock down free throws during crunch time prevented Miami from getting into a groove and struggling to hold on to the ball against a young, feisty Wolves team.
The Heat looked good in the first quarter, opening with a 25-15 lead. Whiteside would not allow the T-Wolves to breath, slamming down 3 dunks and blocking away 3 shots in the period. Shabazz Muhammad and Andrew Wiggins brought their team back in the game in the second. Dragic's 12 points and 7 assists led the Heat to a 50-45 edge at half-time.
In the third, Whiteside would formally introduce himself to the Timberwolves. Whiteside blocked 3 shots in a span of 30 seconds, giving him the impressive triple-double before the quarter ended and showing why he leads the league in most blocks. Whiteside's fantastic play gave the Heat a 7 point advantage, 69-62, heading into the fourth. The last quarter would discount everything Whiteside did before. Several turnovers, two consecutive offensive fouls by Josh McRoberts and lack of rhythm to open the fourth reversed the momentum of the game for the Heat while the Timberwolves hit everything.
The young and dynamic backcourt of Wiggins and Zach Lavine came to trouble the Heat late. Wiggins had 11 in the quarter and LaVine 12 to calmly advance the lead. The Heat trailed by just 1 with under five minutes to play but the Timberwolves began to hack Hassan. Whiteside hit just 1 of his 4 attempted free-throws, forcing Erik Spoelstra to sit the center. From there, the T-Wolves would go on a 15-8 run and the Heat would lose 103-91.
Despite shooting 46% from the field compared to the Wolves 37%, the turnovers made the difference. Miami committed a season high 22 turnovers while Minnesota had just 8 to thwart any type of momentum as the game came to a close. Bosh and Wade both had 10 points each and couldn't get it going, leaving a load of of duties left to the bench but they couldn't deliver either. The Heat reserves combined for a mere 13 of the Heat's 91 points. Whiteside can have dominating games like this but the lack of production elsewhere will cause problems for the Heat in the future.
Miami will have a shot to get back in it against the Sacramento Kings (look out for DeMarcus Cousins vs Whiteside) Thursday night at 7:30 P.M