Miami Heat Index: Short-Handed Heat Comeback Falls Short


A furious comeback by the Miami Heat falls short, as Michael Beasley can’t get a game-winning attempt off, and fall to the Washington Wizards.

110. 99. 142. Final. 97

Even after all that…wow.

Friday night in Washington saw the Miami Heat down 35 points on two separate occasions, including with about six minutes left in the third quarter, before mounting a comeback that saw them get within one point of the Washington Wizards. Unfortunately, the Heat just didn’t have enough firepower to pull out the win. The loss drops the Heat to 27-34, falling a half game behind the Hornets for the seventh seed, and now trail the Pacers for the eighth spot, because the Pacers lead the season series 2-1.

Miami had two chances at tying or taking the lead in the final seconds, but Henry Walker missed an open three with 5.9 seconds left. That was then followed by Michael Beasley getting the ball with 1.1 seconds, but tried to dribble the ball instead of getting a shot off, thus running the clock out.

The Heat were missing Dwyane Wade (hip), Luol Deng (quad), and Mario Chalmers (knee), and just as Goran Dragic (18 points, 7 assists) was kick starting the comeback, he took a hard foul and left with a back injury.  But the Heat still managed to make the Wizards tighten up, as they got nice performances from Beasley, Tyler Johnson, Shabazz Napier, and James Ennis.

The Wizards were led by Nene’s 20 points, while Marcin Gortat had a double-double (14 points, 17 rebounds). Bradley Beal chipped in 17 points, and All-Star John Wall was ineffective shooting (6 points, on 2 for 8 shooting), but still had a game high 12 assists.

Things that pleased me: Until midway through the third quarter, the only thing that pleased me would have been being happy that feces wasn’t flying from my television because of the Heat’s performance.

But down 35 points midway through the third, the Heat started to chip away with active defense and creating fast-break situations. Miami outscored Washington 68-32 in the second half, as the Wizards just fell apart against a Heat team that had nothing left to lose after being down so much.

It’s March, so what better time for Napier to try and steal the show? Napier came off the bench with 16 points, on 5 for 10 shooting, and hit four threes, as he picked up the slack after Dragic left the game. With his rotation minutes all but vanished, Napier rose to the occasion and showed the coaches that he’s deserving of another opportunity.

On the ninth day of his 10-day contract, Beasley looked more like someone who could put a team on his back for long stretches. After going scoreless in the first three quarters, and Dragic leaving late in the third, Beasley was the go-to-guy for Miami and scored 13 points in the fourth, picking the Wizards apart with jumpers, and having his way one-on-one with Nene. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra trusted him enough to run the last two pivotal possessions through him. The downside was the final sequence, but Beasley showed just enough to stick around.

Johnson started his first NBA game, finishing with 11 points (5 for 8 shooting), 5 rebounds, and 3 assists. He had two big offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter, including a huge put-back dunk, to help give Miami extra possessions. With the continued uncertainty surrounding Wade, Johnson will likely be the recipient of more playing time.

Things that annoyed me: Can’t really be too annoyed with a Heat lineup that was put together with duct tape and love. It was frustrating to see the Wizards jump out to such a hot start shooting, as they jumped out to a 40-18 first quarter lead. The makeshift Heat lineup had no idea on how to defend Washington as it jumped out on breaks. The last thing you want to do against the Wizards is let them run, and the Heat settling for long jumpers that continued to miss is not a way to keep Washington from getting going.

Things that perplexed me: Hassan Whiteside sat out the comeback, as the reserves were the ones clawing their way back into the game, so Spo just rode the wave to shore. But even before being taken out, Whiteside seemed like he was a step slow, as he only grabbed one rebound in the first half. You get the vibe that he loses interest early in games if things aren’t going his way. Maybe with the Heat being down Wade, Deng, and Chalmers, the thoughts of whether they were punting this game and prepping for Saturday’s game back in Miami creeped into his mind.

My issue is that Whiteside can be his own worst enemy. He picked up a technical when he and Gortat got tangled up in the second quarter – his eighth of the season. He already thinks highly of his talent – rightfully so – and hears all the praise coming his way, but at the same time he needs to remember that his journey back to the NBA was started because he had to overcome attitude problems. He’s a young guy with a chip on his shoulder, but a little perspective would probably help him reach his full potential.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how badly did I want to throw a lamp because of Mario Chalmers? N/A. Chalmers didn’t play, yet it took me until the second quarter to realize that. It was a rough start for everyone.

What we learned: The Heat’s mantra of “Next Man Up” was put to the test, as two starters and a key reserve sat (yes, I mean Chalmers), while their starting point guard left in the third quarter. While the Heat could have just folded and prepared for Saturday’s game vs. the Kings, the scrappy reserves didn’t know how to quit. They made shots and watched Washington go into a shell, then built confidence from there.

But moral victories don’t matter in the standings, which right now sees the Heat on the outside looking in. There’s 21 games left, so a half-game deficit doesn’t mean much at the moment. However, the margin for error is razor thin, so getting over these latest rash of injuries is key. Now Dragic is at risk at missing the Sacramento game and Miami’s attempts to build continuity stall again.

One thing moral victories can do is build confidence for guys that have had theirs stripped down over the course of the season, so there’s a chance that this Heat group can be able to build on this.