Thunder 106 - HEAT 94 Game Recap

Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon
by Joe Beguiristain
HEAT.com

The Miami HEAT fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder 106-94 Tuesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Josh Richardson led the way for the HEAT with 22 points.

1. J. Rich Matches A Career-High

To put it simply, Richardson had it all going on against Oklahoma City. Whether it was pull-up jumpers, catch-and-shoot treys or nifty finishes inside, the young man usually converted. On the flip side of the ball, Richardson competed hard against Russell Westbrook and defended him for a good portion of the contest.

Despite Miami being down late in the game, the 23-year-old continued to claw and fight until the very end. While the team ultimately fell short, those kinds of plays really go a long way. In addition to his 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting, Richardson also had five boards and three assists.

2. T. Johnson Comes to Play

As usual, Tyler Johnson laid it all on the line did all he could to try and get the win. On the offensive end, Johnson mixed things up with catch-and-shoot jumpers and a few attacks to the rim. There were also a number of instances where he probed his dribble and looked to create opportunities for his teammates.

On the defensive end, he had a spectacular block on Westbrook early in the fourth. Johnson finished with 15 points, two rebounds, two assists and a steal.

3. J. Johnson Gets Going in the Fourth

After a little bit of a slow start, James Johnson came alive in the fourth quarter. In fact, the 29-year-old led the HEAT with nine points in the period, as he started to attack the rim with purpose. In all, James Johnson tallied 16 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals.

4. Winslow the Playmaker

With Goran Dragić out, Justise Winslow handled the ball quite often against the Thunder and led the team with five assists on the evening.

One of the 20-year-old’s better plays of the game came in transition late in the first half. With 3:04 to go in the second quarter, Winslow skied for the defensive rebound and took the ball down court. Once he approached the left elbow, he drove inside against Domantas Sabonis and got past Enes Kanter. Winslow then absorbed contact from Sabonis and flipped up the shot off the glass for the finish. He also hit the ensuing free throw.

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On the flip side of the ball, he defended a multitude of guys, including Westbrook, Sabonis, Andre Roberson and Jerami Grant.

In total, Winslow tallied seven points, three boards and two steals to go along with his five assists on Tuesday night.

Other Takeaways:

-After missing the past three games due to a sprained left ankle, Rodney McGruder wasted no time to make his presence felt. In fact, the swingman scored seven points on 3-of-4 shooting in the first half. As a whole, McGruder did a nice job of getting into the paint for some nifty shots inside.

-Derrick Williams certainly made the most of his first start since November 28 and was quite active on the offensive end. The 25-year-old ended up with nine points on 4-of-4 shooting against Oklahoma City.

-Willie Reed had a nice spurt in the third quarter, as he scored six points, grabbed five rebounds and blocked two shots in the period.

Game Note:

-Goran Dragić (lower back spasms), Josh McRoberts (left foot stress fracture) and Dion Waiters (pectineus tear) all sat out.

Looking Ahead:

-The HEAT will now hit the road for a back-to-back set with the Hornets and Celtics. After that, Miami returns home for a matchup with the Pistons on New Year’s Day at 6:00 PM. Tickets for that game can be found here.

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