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FIVE STARS: Fricasseed Timberwolf

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Still not a “.500” team (that’s tomorrow), the Heat enter the playoff picture with four out of five stars against Minnesota.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Five Stars is a Hot Hot Hoops exclusive where we dig into the box score of each Heat game and pick apart the numbers under the numbers. The top five players are the Five Stars, regardless of which team they player for. I used the GameScore metric, with a slight adjustment for plus/minus to rank the players. This article is about Miami’s 123-105 victory over the Minnesota TimberWolves on Saturday night.

Probably anybody could have followed our team when we went on all those championship runs, but this is a totally different group. The enthusiasm, the passion to follow this team probably matches that - and I think that's pretty cool. - Heat coach Erik Spoelstra

First Star

Hassan Whiteside (MIA) 27.7

Whiteside spent 32:54 on the court, leading Miami with 23 points, 14 rebounds, three blocks, an assist in a plus-17 rating. He got his 16th First Star in his 42nd overall appearance in the Five Stars, notching a double-double for his 47th double-double of the season, second in Heat history to Rony Seikaly’s 53 in 1991-92. Whiteside also posted his most efficient game of the season, draining 10-of-11 from the floor and all three of his foul shots. His 26.59 estimated PER also led all players in the contest.

These guys are very hungry. A lot of these guys, we got them out of the jungle. These guys have been written off in the NBA. - Whiteside

Second Star

James Johnson (MIA) 21.9

Johnson came off the bench for 27:25, earning his 24th Five Star performance with 17 points on eight-of-12 shooting, also going one-for-two from outside and not visiting the foul line. He also dished out six assists with two steals, two rebounds, and a block. He had a game-high-tying plus-25 (with Josh Richardson) and a 22.19 estimated PER.

We’re not done yet. I don’t think that the bracket is what our goal was. - Johnson on Miami now holding down the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference

Third Star

Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN) 21.7

Towns, Minnesota’s seven-foot, second year center out of the University of Kentucky (and the 2015-16 Rookie of the Year), represents Minnesota in the Five Stars all by himself despite passable efforts from fellow Wolves “big three” Ricky Rubio and Andrew Wiggins.” He earned a 24.04 estimated PER in a game-high 38:29, making 11-of-17 shots from the field, one-of-three from deep, eight-of-eight from the stripe and 11 rebounds, six pulled from the offensive glass. He also had one assist and a minus-20 rating to go with his game-best 31 points.

It was terrible - Minnesota’s Andrew Wiggins, on the TimberWolves’ defense

Fourth Star

Tyler Johnson (MIA) 21.6

Johnson darkens the Five Stars’ doorstep with his 26th appearance in the short countdown this season. As always, he came off the bench and played 32:09, making nine-of-13 shots from the field, two-of-five from “Kaboom”-land, and all three of his attempts from the charity stripe. Johnson earned a 19.71 estimated PER, a plus-20 rating, two rebounds, three assists, and two blocked shots.

If we’re going to be in the playoffs, this is a place we have to defend. - Johnson, on winning at home

Fifth Star

Goran Dragic (MIA) 21.3

Dragic, who is still matching Whiteside with overall appearances with 42, played 32:30 and earned a 20.27 estimated PER. He made seven-of-16 from the field overall, one-of-four three-pointers, and four -of-five from the line, with 10 assists, five rebounds, three steals, and a plus-15 rating.

Of course, we dug a hole at the beginning of the season, but, you know, we fought back. I’m really proud of our team. - Dragic

Note: The UNadjusted GameScores would have the same Five Stars, only with Towns holding down the top spot, then Whiteside, Dragic, Johnson (toothy) and Johnson (stretch).

Friday’s Worst

Gorgui Dieng (MIN) -3.8

Dieng missed each of his seven field goal attempts in 27 minutes, with five boards, two blocks and two helpers. He was whistled four times and earned a minus-10 rating with an estimated PER below zero.

Nightly Notable

A scary moment for Miami in the second quarter when Dion Waiters rolled his ankle and had to be helped off the court. X-Ray tests came back negative, so maybe he won’t be gone more than a few weeks. He’s been a key piece through Miami’s ridiculous resurgence, so any time missed at all is unfortunate.

Five Stars Standings

Hassan Whiteside 293
Goran Dragic 255
Tyler Johnson 146
Dion Waiters 129
James Johnson 115
Wayne Ellington 52
Willie Reed 33
Josh Richardson 26
Rodney McGruder 21
Justise Winslow 16
Derrick Williams 3
Josh McRoberts 1
Luke Babbitt 1