ESPN ranked Hassan Whiteside fifth in a recent list of the most overrated NBA players.
Since returning back from an oblique injury that knocked him out of action for six straight games, the Miami Heat will gladly take his supposed empty stats after he recorded his third triple-double of the season in victory. It was the fourth overall in his career with double-digit totals in points, rebounds and blocked shots. This time he did it off the bench with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks in 27 minutes.
All nine Heat players to see action Friday night had a hand in the comeback victory that was only secured with a 8-2 run to close the game. A combination of timely baskets by Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in down the stretch helped take the lead for good but it was their active defense that led to back-to-back turnovers for the Hornets that doomed the home team.
Wade moved into No. 41 on the NBA's all-time scoring list with 19,711 career points, surpassing Utah Jazz legend John Stockton, on his way to leading the team with 22 points on 11-20 shooting and five assists. Bosh was right behind him with 20 points to go along with six rebounds. Goran Dragic filled up the box score and was close to a triple-double of his own with 12 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.
Among the reserves, Justise Winslow continued to impress playing important minutes and grabbing 10 rebounds and shooting an efficient 4-6 from the field for eight points.
For the Hornets, Kemba Walker was a nightmare for Miami upon his return from injury to lead three Hornets players scoring 20 or more points. Marvin Williams (27 points on 12-17 FGs) and Nicolas Batum (21 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists) played some of their best basketball against the Heat tonight and always seemed to have an answer whenever Miami made a run.
The Heat managed to win the game despite going 0-9 from three-point range while Charlotte shot 10-26 from long distance.
But Miami outplayed their opponent in several fronts, with Whiteside a force immediately upon entering the game by recording four quick blocks in his first minutes of action. Wade was quiet initially, attempting and missing his only field goal attempt in the first quarter, but he came alive in the second quarter to keep the Heat in the game. He scored the last 12 Heat points to close out the first half, including a thunderous dunk over Hornets defenders in transition.
Both teams went back and forth in the second half but Whiteside continued to rise to the occasion again and again, at one point blocking Jeremy Lin and following it up with an offensive rebound and completing a three-point play. A 13-4 run led by Whiteside and Bosh helped the Heat re-take the lead at 78-77 with nine minutes left in the game. The team hit five straight points to take a four-point lead, their biggest lead of the night at the time. Charlotte would come right back however with Walker and Williams knocking down tough shots to grab the lead again midway through the fourth quarter.
Again, it was Whiteside answering back as he smothered Walker in the paint and kept the ball for himself to record his 10th block of the night and his triple-double. The victory seemed in their grasp until the Hornets rattled off five straight points to retake the lead at 89-88. That's when the Heat's 8-2 run put the final touch to a wild game that was hard fought and well earned.
Miami ends a grueling stretch, one in which 14 of their last 16 games were on the road as the team battled back from multiple injuries, with yet another encouraging win. Despite a stretch in which they lost seven of eight games, Miami has bounced back to third place in the East and they have improved their record to 29-22 after winning six of their last seven games.
Five of their next six games are back at home, starting with an early Sunday game against the Los Angeles Clippers.