After two impressive and emotionally draining victories against Cleveland and Portland, there was a chance for this to be a letdown game for Miami playing a 26-44 team in Denver with nothing to play for and early on it did seem to go in that direction. Denver raced out to a 21-11 first quarter lead with the burly Jusuf Nurkic giving Hassan Whiteside issues inside and Kenneth Faried outrunning everyone as he often does. With Nurkic picking up his 2nd foul in the quarter however, Miami closed the quarter on a 11-2 run and trailed only by one at the end of the quarter.
Miami's offense would then explode in the 2nd quarter as they scored 37 points to Denver's 23. Dwyane Wade sustained what appeared to be a hip injury midway through the 2nd quarter, but he still wound up with 14 halftime points, showing few ill effects from the injury. Michael Beasley was also a huge spark off the bench on both ends. His active hands allowed him to steal and deflect many Denver passes and though he struggled with his spot-up shooting (a role that he just doesn't seem suited for), Beasley put up a varied stat line of 9 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals, and a blocked shot. The seven assists were a Heat-career high for Beasley and the three steals a season high.
Denver would make a run in the third quarter, pushing the pace and hoisting some questionable threes that went in and cut the lead down to five at one point. Miami would manage to push the lead back up to double digits before holding a nine point lead through three quarters.
The fourth quarter started out awkwardly enough for both clubs with Miami turning the ball over on multiple possessions and Denver's shooting falling apart. Denver had three points through about the first six minutes of the 4th quarter and the Heat slowly built their lead back up before Dwyane Wade and Hassan Whiteside checked back in and made it a full fledged blowout.
Dwyane Wade's streak of 25 point games ended tonight, but he still had a nice 22 points on 9-18 shooting with four assists to boot. His backcourt mate Goran Dragic had 18 points on 9-14 shooting with eight rebounds and five assists, continuing to make what appear to be absurdly difficult layups with regularity.
Hassan Whiteside struggled early, but turned it around quickly and wound up with another double-double, scoring 14 points and pulling down 10 boards, with two steals and blocks to boot. Luol Deng added 15 and Miami's bench outscored Denver's 33-16.
Denver was led by Faried who scored 20 on 10-15 shooting. All five Denver starters scored in double figures with Nurkic & Randy Foye adding 16 apiece.
It's taken till mid-March, but Miami's seemed to have hit their stride with their health mostly intact and Goran Dragic transforming the offense. They are now 17-18 at home, but will have to travel on a week long, four game road trip starting Sunday at Oklahoma City. The only concern may be Wade's health. He finished the game fine, but his bumps and bruises may ache the next morning. Miami clearly needs him for this playoff push as they are only now gaining some semblance of continuity with the rotation.