Miami Heat’s Wayne Ellington spurs win over Minnesota Timberwolves

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 24: Wayne Ellington
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 24: Wayne Ellington /

Following an impressive home victory against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday, the Miami Heat hit the road to battle the new-look Minnesota Timberwolves.

Right from the opening tip, Miami seized all the momentum and air from Target Center.

Wayne Ellington recorded a season-high 21 points (6-for-9 from 3-point range) and Goran Dragic added 20 points (5-for-8 from 3) and six assists as the Miami Heat beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 109-97, hitting on a season-high 19 3-pointers on 39 attempts.

Dion Waiters scored 17 points, Hassan Whiteside tallied 16 and 10 rebounds, and Kelly Olynyk’s 12 and eight rounded out a solid offensive outing for a Miami team that has struggled to rekindle its identity.

Jimmy Butler, Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins all scored 18 each for the Timberwolves, who have now dropped three of their last four games.

Miami began the contest much like they did against the Boston Celtics, jumping out to a quick 8-2 advantage less than two minutes in.

Overall, they knocked down 10 of their first 13 shots, including 4-for-6 from beyond-the-arc.

"“We practice that every day. Our shooters get into the corner and our attackers run,” Ellington said. “It just so happened tonight that they were wide open.”"

Ellington also credited Miami’s interior play, particularly Whiteside and Olynyk.

"“It all starts with them.”"

Dion Waiters knotched seven points in the first quarter, and after being backed up by strong opening performances from Dragic (six points) and Josh Richardson (five points), the Heat found themselves with a 28-25 lead after one.

The second period, however, is where Miami was most lethal.

Despite a couple of early turnovers by Richardson, the Heat would overcome minor struggles and scored 30 points in the period. Spurred by Ellington and Dragic, whom each scored nine points in the quarter, the Heat took a 58-48 halftime lead that they did not relinquish. 

After the intermission, Miami embarked on a quick 7-2 spurt and never looked back, despite holding just a 23-22 edge following the third period.

Waiters, whom was held scoreless during the second, suddenly sprang to life, tallying 10 points in the quarter. Whiteside’s interior dominance also assisted in the Heat heading into the final period of regulation with an 81-70 lead.

Minnesota attempted to close the gap, but once Ellington’s 3-pointer with 6:22 remaining put Miami up 100-81, the small signs of life the Timberwolves once boasted completely exited the building.

The Heat (9-9) now finds itself “back on track” so to speak, and could further bolster that claim with wins over the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers in the coming days. Currently averaging the most points off 3-pointers in franchise history at 33.2 percent, Miami is rounding into form on both ends of the floor as the season approaches its midpoint.

As a team, the 3-pointer can be one of the Heat’s most deadly weapons, and head coach Erik Spoelstra acknowledged that post game.

"“They were all looking for them [tonight].”"

With 18 games now under their belt and and a full slate still to be played, only time will tell just how far this Miami team can compete in a weakened Eastern Conference.

Next: Are the Miami Heat equipped to compete in the Eastern Conference?

For the time being, they’re just fine and they know it.