This Heat team refuses to accept its fate.
Trailing by seven points with 36 seconds left in regulation, the Heat put together an improbable rally to tie it, then won in overtime to defeat the Orlando Magic 93-90 on Wednesday at Amway Center. Heat center Hassan Whiteside was a defensive force in the extra period, and Dwyane Wade played the role of savvy veteran. It was enough to send the Heat (25-31) to New Orleans with a playoff pulse for the second game of a road trip.
For more than 47 minutes on Wednesday, the Heat’s season was flat-lining. Then the new guy, Henry Walker, saved it all with a pair of three-pointers in the final 22 seconds of regulation. Walker’s first three-pointer cut the Magic’s lead to two points and, following 1 of 2 free throws by Orlando’s Victor Oladipo, Walker sent the game into overtime with a dramatic three-pointer with two seconds left.
It was a tense end to regulation, and a reminder that — against all odds and without Chris Bosh — this Heat team can still win important games.
“We needed a win like this,” said Wade, who had four points in overtime, including a layup in transition to put the Heat ahead 89-86. “We haven’t gotten one of these all year. It felt great to come back from it when things weren’t going our way — just keep fighting, keep fighting, keep fighting, and we were able to get some rebounds and get some points in transition and get back in this game and then take it.”
Whiteside began overtime with a rebound, a block and then a dunk to kick-start the Heat’s momentum. He finished with 15 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. The Heat’s big center was the team’s surprise story in January, but Walker, the new forward, is the D-Leaguer of the day now. He finished with 10 points off the bench and six rebounds, and while it wasn’t his best day shooting the ball — 2 of 11 from three-point range — his two triples that went down were clutch shots that gave the Heat hope when there seemed like there was none to be had.
“I just wanted to stay aggressive and take shots that I know I can hit and play within myself,” Walker said. “Those guys do such a good job of creating for me and looking for me, and it was just matter of time before I hit those shots. That one I hit, D-Wade drew four people, so he kicked it out and, having faith that I hit those shots all the time, I let it go.”
Down five points following a floater by Wade, the Heat forced a turnover when Walker and Luol Deng hounded Magic center Nikola Vucevic in the open court for a turnover. The call first went to Orlando but was then overturned after a review by officials. The extra time gave Heat coach Erik Spoelstra a chance to prepare his team both offensively and defensively.
The call was overturned, and Deng found Walker open in the corner following the out-of-bounds play. On Walker’s game-tying shot 20 seconds later, the Heat couldn’t find an open man and worked the shot clock down to nothing before Wade sprayed a pass to Walker on the perimeter.
Deng finished with 21 points and seven rebounds in 40 minutes of work. Pulling double duty at small and power forward with Bosh now out for the season with blood clots, Deng carried the Heat in the third quarter with 13 points. The Heat fell behind by nine points in the period before tying it at 61-61 entering the fourth quarter. The game was tied 17-17 after the first quarter and 85-85 after the fourth.
Still trying to acclimate himself to the team, Heat point guard Goran Dragic finished with eight points and five assists. The team’s chemistry was off for much of the game, with the Heat only recording five assists in the first half.
With victories against the three worst teams in the Eastern Conference (Knicks, 76ers and Magic), the Heat has now won three of its last four games since losing Bosh for the season.
“We’re playing Orlando and Philly, and those teams beat us before,” said Wade, who had 18 points, two rebounds, six assists and three steals. “We just have to make it ugly, man, and find a way to try to be in the ballgame and give ourselves a chance to win no matter what team we’re playing. For us, we’ll take any win now, no matter how it comes.”
▪ Deng went to the ground during the first four minutes of the fourth quarter after an errant elbow from Chris Andersen caught him in the back of the neck. Deng was guided off the court by a Heat trainer and then briefly applied a bag of ice to the back of his neck. He returned to the game.
▪ Deng said he played “12 to 15 minutes” at power forward on Monday in the Heat’s victory against the Philadelphia 76ers. He is playing out of position by necessity and filling in part-time for Bosh. Since Sunday, Deng has been watching and breaking down film on Bosh.
“He has proven that he can guard multiple players,” Spoelstra said of Deng. “Really, he is one through four for us. Offensively, I don’t like categorizing players by old conventional standards, because in our offense it really is position-less.”