Heat Pull Away In 4th, Beat Wolves 97-81
The defending champion Miami Heat won their 15th straight game—a franchise record—but not without a struggle as they eventually bested the Minnesota Timberwolves 97-81 on Monday night.
"I thought our guys played really hard,” coach Rick Adelman said. “We didn't shoot the ball very well again. Competed and had a chance right there in the middle of the fourth quarter, and they opened it up."
Wolves vs. Heat
A Shved 3-pointer brought the Wolves within three points with 10 minutes left in the fourth, but that all came crashing down two minutes later when J.J. Barea was ejected after getting physical with Miami’s Ray Allen around the eight-minute mark. A long referee review commenced, and after Barea’s ejection, any chance Minnesota had at coming back was out the window. Wade and Allen each had nine points as the Heat ran the score up by as much as 18 and left town with a victory.
“He pushed off, hit me with an elbow close to my neck,” Barea said of his contact with Allen. “Part of the game, then I gave him a bump back. I’ve been in the NBA for seven years, I get hit harder than that every night.”
The incident derailed Minnesota’s momentum after it battled back from a double-digit first half deficit.
The Wolves kicked the game off 6-0, but the Heat responded with a 11-2 run to snag the lead. Eight points from Dwyane Wade on 4-for-5 shooting led Miami to a 22-16 advantage after the first 12 minutes, and Minnesota big men Chris Johnson and Greg Stiemsma had already accumulated two fouls, playing sparingly for the rest of the contest.
In the second quarter, the Wolves were forced to play small with their two active centers in foul trouble. Luckily, Ricky Rubio dished out six assists and helped enable the Wolves to cut the deficit to as little as four points. Derrick Williams was hot from midrange and produced eight points, but the Heat continued their own sharpshooting ways and finished with a 58 percent field goal percentage for the first half. Wade and LeBron James led Miami at the break with 14 and 13 points, respectively, as the Heat led the game at the break, 50-43.
Miami came out of halftime hot, as Mario Chalmers and Dwyane Wade hit 3-pointers to build a Heat lead that was as much as 14 points, and they led by double digits for most of the quarter. But the Wolves stuck with the reigning champs, and Alexey Shved hit a leaning, last-second jumper off of an offensive rebound and climbed back within six points, 69-63.
Derrick Williams had 25 points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota, achieving his seventh double-double this season. Rubio logged 14 points, eight rebounds and six steals, and Dante Cunningham led the team in rebounding with 11.
Wade had a standout night for Miami, scoring 32 points on 15-of-23 shooting and also dishing out 10 assists. LeBron James collected 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Ray Allen came off the bench to contribute 13 points.
Leader of the Pack: Derrick Williams
Over the last four games, Williams has averaged 20.5 points and 10.0 rebounds. He outdid his scoring average, logging 25 points and 10 boards. His scoring total was two points from a career high, and this is now the fourth game out of five where he has been the leading scorer for Minnesota.
“It gets tough later in the game, especially a team like this,” Williams said of the contest. “You can’t give them any advantage. We were down six, Alexey got called for an offensive foul, a few things went their way and all of a sudden it’s a 15-point game. All season it’s been like that.”
Play of the Game
At the 8:30 mark, Rubio stole a bad pass intended for Dwyane Wade and started charging down the court. Just before the 3-point line, he threaded a bounce pass through defenders and found Alexey Shved for a left-side layup. With that basket, the Wolves came within four points.
“I get hit harder than that every night. I don’t get up crying or want to fight. [Philadelphia center Andrew] Bynum almost knocked me out for the rest of my life, I didn’t get up crying. It’s a little bump, it’s part of the game.”—Wolves guard J.J. Barea
The Wolves will practice Tuesday and then host the Washington Wizards on Wednesday before heading to the Rockies for a single road game against Denver on Saturday. After that, they play Dallas and San Antonio at home next week.