The Miami Heat appeared to be cruising to an easy road win against the Brooklyn Nets with a sizable 16-point advantage midway through the third quarter and comfortably in control of the game. That’s precisely when the Brooklyn Nets went on an extended run to turn the game around and grab a surprising 101-95 home victory Friday night.
Miami’s offense went cold while the Nets went with a smaller lineup and an increased physicality on defense that was tolerated by the officials. Brooklyn was led by DeMarre Carroll with a team-leading 26 points along with an aggressive Spencer Dinwiddie who had his way driving to the paint in the second half and finished with 15 points.
Hassan Whiteside was a force inside early in the game, accounting for 11 of his team’s first 17 points and though he totaled 22 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks for the game, he was unable to contain the Nets from scoring inside as they went on their decisive run. In a noticeable difference to past games, no Heat player stepped up their game in the second half to collectively lead the team. Goran Dragic scored 17 points but was a non-factor down the stretch as Erik Spoelstra desperately tried to mix and match his roster in a fruitless effort to counter the Nets’ push.
Ultimately, Miami’s paltry 16 points scored in the third quarter was the difference in the game and the team essentially failed to score after the midway point of the quarter. The Nets would eventually get their first lead since the first quarter with a 3-pointer from Caris LeVert to make it 79-77 three minutes into the final quarter.
LeVert’s layup and 3-pointer during crunch time would end the Heat’s late push to steal the game back and a golden opportunity to pick up another road win in their climb upwards in the standings. The Washington Wizard’s victory against the Detroit Pistons tonight means the Heat have just a half a game ahead of them for the fourth seed.
Miami will have to put this bitter loss behind them quickly when they face the Charlotte Hornets on the road tomorrow at 7:00pm.