Well, it happened again.
Another big late lead against a bad team.
Another loss, this one 129-126 to Minnesota, which was without Karl Anthony Towns.
The Miami Heat came into this game after a horrific loss against Cleveland on Monday night, during which they squandered a 19-point lead entering the fourth quarter. So you figured they’d learned some lessons. Plus, the Heat got Jimmy Butler back after he missed the last two games due to personal reasons. And Miami was back home, where it has been dominant this season, to start a five-game stretch.
Kelly Olynyk tried to set the tone early with back to back triples to start the first. He also added 5 rebounds in the first and started to establish his role in the offense. Dragić added 7 points off the bench to spark Miami to a late push to end the first. The Heat still trailed at the end of the first quarter 29-28.
The Heat had trouble in the second quarter defending the three, which has been the problem over this tough stretch of games. Minnesota hit 11 threes in the first half compared to Miami’s 5 first half threes and still led at the half 60-57. Bam led the way in the second quarter for the Heat, scoring 9 points and adding 4 rebounds. The Heat still needed a defensive change for the second half if they were going to keep this lead.
The third quarter was lead by Butler and Nunn who combined for 17 third quarter points. While scoring wasn’t the problem, Miami had made a defensive change to begin defending the three. This caused Minnesota to start attacking the paint, which actually worked in their favor. The Heat couldn’t stop the Timberwolves from getting to the rim. The Heat only trailed one at the end of the third, 95-94.
The Heat seemed to pull away at the end of the fourth when they took an eleven point lead with 3:30 left in the game. The Timberwolves defense stepped up and forced a couple turnovers which led to many fast break points. The Heat had the lead with 14 seconds left, and Timberwolves undrafted rookie, Jordan McLaughlin, drove by Bam for what would be the game winning layup. The Timberwolves beat the Heat 129-126.
The Miami Heat’s continued problems occurred on both sides of the ball, whether turnovers or closeouts. Miami also seems as if they are lost at end of games and no one wants to shoot the ball. The ball continues to move until about 5 seconds on the shot clock, then that person has to take a contested shot. These problems are definitely fixable and it’s much better to have these problems in February than have them come playoff time. This loss will definitely test the Heat’s mental strength and hopefully can focus on the next game on Friday against Dallas.