Dwyane Wade had one final chance at a potential game winner to lift the Miami Heat to victory but his 3-point attempt bounced off the rim in a disappointing 111-109 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Wade and Goran Dragic were simply unstoppable in the first half, combining for 35 points on 13-16 FG shooting, but both struggled badly in the second half with just four points on 1-13 shooting. But they weren’t solely to blame for the disappearing act as the Timberwolves took control of the game in the third quarter while the Heat shot a paltry 40% as a team in the second half after going 62% in the first half. Wade still led the team with 24 points, including a key steal late in the game that made it a one possession game. Dion Waiters pushed through some early struggles to finish strong with 22 points on 8-17 shooting and 6-12 from deep, including some clutch outside shooting to keep them in the game.
With their third straight loss and four in their last six games, the Heat are now a game behind the Detroit Pistons for the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference. Though, the Pistons lost tonight to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Orlando Magic easily blew out the Atlanta Hawks.
The first quarter featured 14 lead changes alone as both teams’ offense took center stage. The Heat shot an impressive 65% in the first quarter but allowed 36 points so they only had a one-point lead at the end of the quarter to show for it. Miami employed the zone defense early and often with little positive results. However, one chief objective was accomplished as Karl-Anthony Towns kept committing offensive fouls hampering his ability to get in the flow of the game, finishing with just 13 points, 12 rebounds and an eye-popping 11 turnovers and four fouls. Unfortunately for Miami, Gorgui Deng took over the reins with a season-high 19 points alongside familiar Heat foe Dario Saric who also finished with 19 points.
The rest of the game would feature few lead changes with Miami shooting well in the second quarter behind Wade’s heroics. The lead would have been larger but they were their own worst enemy with too many turnovers, most of them unforced or from sloppy play — which is unforgivable at this stage of the season with so much on the line. In a reminder of their early season struggles, they came out flat after halftime while Minnesota in contrast raced out to an 18-6 to retake the lead.
Waiters had 13 points to keep the Heat within striking distance but the Timberwolves kept making big plays down the stretch to keep the lead. Miami’s offense, once free flowing with plenty of ball movement in the first half, stagnated in the second half.
Miami now faces the mighty Toronto Raptors on the road Sunday at noon.