The Miami Heat couldn’t lose at home to the Phoenix Suns, a team that had lost 17 straight games coming into Monday night’s game, right?
Despite building a 13-point lead in the first half, the Heat crumbled in the second half against the bottom-dwelling Suns—continuing a trend for this Miami team that has struggled to defeat the worst teams in the NBA. The Heat fell 124-121 to drop to 26-33 in a season that is looking more and more headed to the lottery.
And Miami seemed to have eked out a victory, at least with 18.9 seconds left to go. That was right after Kelly Olynyk made a long two (he had a toe on the 3-point line) off an assist from Dwyane Wade to put the Heat up 121-120. Phoenix called a timeout to advance the ball.
But Josh Richardson was too aggressive playing for a steal off the in-bounds pass, causing Devin Booker to fall to the ground. (Why Richardson even went for the steal was puzzling to begin with.) The referee called a foul, and Booker made both free throws. On the Heat’s ensuing possession, Wade attempted a tough fade-away shot and missed. Bam Adebayo tried to tip the ball in, but the ball slipped through his hands. The Suns secured the ball, and the Heat had to foul.
Miami led for the entire first three quarters of this game. It should not have come to fourth-quarter heroics to begin with. As the Heat have often done this season, Miami committed a few baffling turnovers against an inferior opponent and turned what should be a comfortable win into jeopardy. Even when the Heat have to start Duncan Robinson and give first-half playing time to Ryan Anderson—Justise Winslow and James Johnson were out, and Erik Spoelstra kept Goran Dragic off the bench in his second game back from his knee injury—this game should not have turned the way it did.
On the plus side, Hassan Whiteside continued his strong play—a rare bright spot during what has been a dreary slog through the season for Miami. Whiteside finished with 29 points on 14-of-19 shooting from the field and 11 rebounds. Particularly in the first half, Whiteside out-maneuvered Suns center Deandre Ayton for offensive rebounds and easy baskets.
Deandre Ayton is having a lot of trouble with Whiteside on the glass. Already five offensive rebounds for Whiteside. pic.twitter.com/rEKKPJVYC1— Couper Moorhead (@CoupNBA) February 26, 2019
Kelly Olynyk scored a season-high 28 points for the Heat on 11-of-16 shooting, including 4-of-6 from downtown. Olynyk also grabbed 10 rebounds on a night Miami needed him to deliver. Dion Waiters was scoreless through three quarters (he did have a big four-point play in the final minute, though), and Josh Richardson shot just 2-for-10 on the night.
Wade finished with 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting from the field and five assists. Wade had some nice moments (see the video below), but took a number of ill-advised shots, including that fade-away with the Heat down one point with 17 seconds left.
D-Wade showing his son he's still got it. pic.twitter.com/N6fMbtpqMu— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 26, 2019
Dragic played 22 minutes and showed that he still has plenty of rest to shake off. A wide-open corner 3 attempt by Dragic hit the side of the backboard, and a number of his second-half shots barely grazed the rim.
The Heat will host the defending champion Golden State Warriors on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.