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Heat escape in final moments, top 76ers 96-91

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As expected, the Miami Heat moved to 8-4 with a second straight victory over the winless Philadelphia 76ers. But it was all but easy.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat started off the game in the worst way possible. In the first quarter, the Heat already had eight turnovers while shooting just 35% from the field. It was simply atrocious to see careless play after careless play and watch the Philadelphia 76ers built a 17-point lead early in the second after a 24-4 run. Even defensively, Miami looked simply slow and gave a lot of easy points to arguably the worst offense in the NBA. To the Sixers credit, they played harder right from the tip-off and protected the paint very well.

Finally, the Heat woke up and cut the lead to simple digit behind a lot of blocked shots and better activity on defense. Offensively, Dwyane Wade took care of the business and scored 17 points in the first half, passing Dale Ellis for 50th on the NBA's all-time scoring list. But unfortunately, Miami didn't close out the second quarter very well and fell behind 47-32 at halftime.

In the third quarter, the Heat came out with a lot of energy on both ends of the floor and quickly cut the lead to five points. Hassan Whiteside did Hassan Whiteside things and Chris Bosh finally gave Miami a spark offensively. Miami also had better ball movement in the second half but it wasn't enough to complete the comeback as Isaiah Canaan kept the Sixers ahead by hitting multiple shots from behind the arc.

Down 74-67 entering the final period, the Heat needed a strong fourth quarter in order to escape an embarrassing loss. But easier said than done, as the Sixers just continued to hit shots after shots. Philadelphia even put Whiteside on the free throw line but Hassan made most of his attempts. Finally, the Heat's defense got some stops and Justise Winslow cut the deficit to three with an and-1 in transition and a great alley-oop play with Wade. And with 2:40 left to play, Bosh tied the score 89-89 before Gerald Green gave the Heat the first lead since the first minutes of the game, by hitting both of his free throws. Miami will never fall behind again, thanks to a huge tip-in by Winslow and four more points by Green on the free throw line.

With a 17-2 run in the fourth quarter, Miami avoided an ugly loss but this game was a little bit concerning for a team that have such high expections for this season. With 27 points, Wade was the top scorer of the night and stands now 49th on the all-time scoring list with 19,017 career points. Whiteside also had a good game with 13 points, 9 rebonds and 8 blocks. For the still winless Sixers, Canaan and Robert Covington combined for 43 points of the bench and Jahlil Okafor had a solid double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

The Heat will host the much improved New York Knicks Monday to conclude a season-long seven-game homestand.