When Dwyane Wade made his only visit of the regular season to Miami on Nov. 10, he spent a few moments after the Bulls hung on to beat the Heat encouraging Josh Richardson to keep working hard.
Soon enough, Wade said, the Heat’s young nucleus was going to figure out how to win close games.
Richardson scored 11 fourth-quarter points that night and buried three three-pointers in the final minute and 36 seconds to keep Miami within striking distance before the Bulls and Wade finally prevailed by three points.
In Saturday night’s 110-107 loss to the Grizzlies, Richardson took the Heat’s final shot — “a good, clean look,” according to coach Erik Spoelstra — and missed. But Richardson said he’s not going to get down about it. He’s going to take Wade’s advice and keep working until one of those shots goes in and produces a Heat victory.
“I think it’s good for myself and the young guys on our team to be able to take [those big, late game shots],” said Richardson, whose 25-foot heave which clanked off the rim Saturday night marked only the second time in his NBA career he’s taken a shot in a one possession game with under 30 seconds to play.
“They get you ready. I’ve taken big shots in my career at other levels and I’ve missed ‘em and I’ve made ‘em. I think I’m mature enough to take it for what it is and keep going. I think it’s good for all of us.”
For a long time, many of the Heat’s last second shots were taken by Wade. A look back at last year’s late-game statistics shows Wade took 22 (and made 12) of the Heat’s 38 shots in a one-possession game with under 30 seconds to play.
The only returning players for the Heat with such late-game shot experience? Goran Dragic (2 of 3 last season) and Hassan Whiteside (0 for 1).
This season, Dion Waiters (1 for 5), Richardson (1 for 2) and rookie Rodney McGruder (1 for 1) have taken those late-game shots for the Heat, which is now 2-3 in one-possession games with under 30 seconds remaining.
A season ago, the Heat was 17-13 in those situations counting the playoffs and 28-23 overall when the lead for either team was no more than five points with under five minutes to play (defined as the clutch).
This season, the Heat is 2-7 in the clutch and 1-7 in games decided by seven points or less. Only the similarly young Minnesota Timberwolves have a winning percentage worse than the Heat’s in the clutch (1 of 6, 14.3 percent).
“We have to keep grinding away,” said Waiters, who scored a season-high 28 points in Saturday’s loss but is only 2-of-13 shooting in clutch situations this season.
“Even though we’re a young team it don’t matter at the end of the day. It’s about getting stops and putting your hard hats on when it counts. We’ve just got to continue to keep moving forward and let this be a learning step for us again — how to execute down the stretch and make the right plays.”
▪ Waiters, who scored 11 fourth-quarter points Saturday, leads the Heat in fourth-quarter shot attempts (51) by double-digits. Tyler Johnson is next on the list with 41.
Even though he admitted he wanted to take the Heat’s last shot against the Grizzlies, Waiters said he said he made the right play by passing it out to Richardson for the Heat’s final shot.
Waiters said he’s only focused on making the right plays in crunch time and he believes he has earned the trust of Spoelstra to do that.
“He just lets me go out there and play and, it’s a great thing man,” said Waiters, who is shooting 35.3 percent in the final quarter — better than only James Johnson (31.4 percent) and Justise Winslow (27.0 percent) among the Heat’s regular rotation players.
“I never really had that. All along I know what I can do and I believe in myself. I’ve got probably the most confidence. But having a coach that allows you to go out there and play, it makes it easier.”
Monday: Celtics at Heat
When/where: 7:30 p.m., AmericanAirlines Arena.
TV/radio: SUN; WAXY 790, WAQI 710 (Spanish).
Series: Celtics lead 65-44.
Scouting report: Boston swept the three regular-season meetings last season. Winslow (sore left wrist) has been ruled out and will miss his eighth consecutive game for the Heat. Dragic, who has missed back-to-back games with a strained left elbow, told the Palm Beach Post he’s hopeful to play Monday. Guard Wayne Ellington (bruised thigh) was upgraded to questionable after missing the first 16 games of the season and could make his debut.