The Miami Heat were on their way to notching their second quality win in a row to open their road trip with a 17-point lead late in the third quarter against the Sacramento Kings and having led the entire way.
But Sacramento stormed back to hold Miami to just 13 points in the fourth quarter and ending the game on a 19-2 run to grab the 102-96 victory. Everything the Heat did well leading up to the fatal Kings run was completely undone by mindless turnovers, a suddenly broken offense and missed free throws to contribute to the loss. Make no mistake, the Kings played very well down the stretch to fully take advantage of the costly turnovers and badly missed shots to kickstart their transition offense, where they would either score at close range or get to the free throw line.
Particularly disastrous were the final six minutes of the game, where the Heat had several chances to right the ship and hold the Kings off with a timely bucket here or there. The Kings clamped down on defense and the Heat had no answers, either with desperation long range shots or broken lobs near the rim.
Josh Richardson led the team with 21 points, four assists and three blocks while Hassan Whiteside had another strong game with 17 points, 19 rebounds and two blocks. Dwyane Wade was able to return to the court after falling to the floor in a scary play, but not without passing the NBA’s concussion protocol, to contribute 15 points off the bench. Dion Waiters struggled in his return to the starting lineup, scoring 12 points on 4-12 shooting.
Much like in their win against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Heat were firmly in control and for the first three and a half quarters they were able to counter good stretches of basketball by the home team with runs of their own to increase their lead. Waiters had knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers and Justise Winslow drove to the basket confidently to make it 79-62 with 4:24 left in the third quarter but that was the final good stretch of Heat basketball tonight.
Without any answers, they only scored four points for the rest of the third quarter, leading up to one of their worst fourth quarter performances of the season.
The road trip continues against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday at 8:30pm.