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Whiteside dominates Sixers, powers Heat to victory

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The Heat won their 10th straight game.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

During the Miami Heat’s surprising winning streak, Hassan Whiteside has not played all that well. Miami’s newfound success came largely due to the superior play of Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters. Whiteside played more as a complementary offensive player.

That wasn’t the case Saturday night.

From the opening tip, Whiteside feasted on a Sixers team missing Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor. He had a double-double by the end of the first quarter. By the end of the third quarter, Whiteside had a 30-point, 20-rebound game on his hands. And the Heat rolled past the Philadelphia 76ers to win their 10th consecutive game.

Whiteside shot 14-for-17 from the field on Saturday, as no one from the Sixers could match his physical strength. He didn’t get 30 points with jump shots; he had dunks, easily layups and quick hooks. Whiteside didn’t have formidable opposition, but he took complete advantage of his match-up.

It wasn’t just Whiteside dominance that led to the blowout win Saturday night. Dion Waiters hit his first five attempts from 3-point range and finished with 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field and seven assists. The biggest change from the 11-30 Heat to the 21-30 Heat? Waiters has played a much more efficient game, with a noticeably smoother jump shot.

Despite going scoreless during the first quarter, Goran Dragic finished with 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the field, including 2-for-2 from downtown. The Heat point guard also had eight assists and four rebounds for the Heat, fueling an offense that fired on all cylinders Saturday night. Dragic also had this impressive burst in the fourth quarter.

After two uneven performances after returning from injury, Tyler Johnson was back on track as the explosive player off the bench he is Saturday night. Johnson had 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the field, made eight trips to the foul line and added six rebounds, six assists and one of his best blocks of the season.

Tyler Johnson’s partner in crime off the bench, James Johnson, also had a good night. The forward contributed 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field, six rebounds, three assists and two steals for the Heat. In a play that exemplified how well Miami played, James Johnson came up with a steal and breakaway dunk to give the Heat 100 points at the end of the third quarter.

Okaro White finished out his second 10-day contract helping the Heat win their 10th straight game. White started the second half — Rodney McGruder did not play in the second half after battling an illness Saturday — and hit a 3-pointer to put the Heat up 16 in the third quarter. Miami may waive seldom-used Derrick Williams to keep White for the remainder of the season.

Even team captain Udonis Haslem got some playing time Saturday night, adding four points and four rebounds.

The Heat will hit the road to defend their winning streak, beginning a four-game road trip that starts against the Minnesota Timberwolves Monday night at 8 p.m.