A familiar script has emerged from several recent Miami Heat losses in which the team is shorthanded but manages to keep it close until the final quarter when the opposing team’s go-to scorer seals the victory. This time it wasn’t an ordinary night however, with Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas pouring in a career-high 52 points to put away the pesky Heat 117-114 on Friday night.
Thomas scored an incredible 29 of his team’s 35 points in the fourth quarter, a Celtics team record, and he shot 15-26 from the field, 9-13 in 3-point FGs and 13-13 at the free throw line. He notched six 3-pointers in the final quarter alone. Somehow it still wasn’t enough to secure an easy win as the Heat, without starting point guard Goran Dragic, kept coming back and keeping it close thanks largely to the heroics of Josh Richardson and reserves James Johnson and Tyler Johnson.
Miami’s bench contributed 63 points and the team overall racked up 35 assists without Dragic, who sat out with back spasms after he was ineffective last night against the Charlotte Hornets. Justise Winslow certainly improved on his performance last night and finished with 11 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists but was still shaky from the field with a 5-13 shooting performance.
James Johnson had his best game of the season, scoring 22 points on 8-13 shooting and six rebounds, but it wasn’t enough on a night where Thomas couldn’t miss when it mattered the most.
The offense certainly wasn’t to blame in tonight’s loss, with six players scoring in double-figures, but with another off night from Hassan Whiteside (11 points, 8 rebounds, 1 block) on both ends of the floor could have been the difference in tonight’s game -- even with Thomas’ dominance.
Miami, losers of four straight games and seven of their last eight, next host the Detroit Pistons on Sunday at 5:30pm before leaving for a six-game Western Conference trip.