PHILADELPHIA - Even in a season with home losses to doormats Orlando and Brooklyn and Sacramento, what happened here to Miami on Wednesday night was the most demoralizing, the most painful shot to the gut of this rollercoaster Heat season.
Ahead by 24 early in the third, the Heat unraveled, buried under an avalanche of 76ers rebounds, second-chance points and jump shots in a 104-102 loss that sent Miami into the All Star break losers of seven of its last eight. Dwyane Wade’s potential game-winning three-point attempt bounced off the rim at the buzzer.
Instead of moving past Philadelphia into seventh in the East, Miami (30-28) instead remained in eighth, falling 1.5 games behind the 76ers and just 1.5 games ahead of No. 9 Detroit.
After storming to a 68-44 lead early in the third, the 76ers erupted on a 46-22 run to tie the game at 90 with less than six minutes left. Miami then committed three mindless turnovers and watched Ben Simmons (18 points, 10 assists) and JJ Redick (14 points) hit huge late shots.
The 76ers pounded the Heat on the boards, 60 to 29, and had 25 second chance points to nine by the Heat. And Philadelphia did this even without injured All-Star center Joel Embiid.
Goran Dragic had 18 points for Miami but just two in the second half. Wade (4 for 13 shooting, eight points, four turnovers) missed a three with the Heat down one and 37 seconds left and then the one at the buzzer.
Josh Richardson, limited to 22 minutes by foul trouble, had only six points. James Johnson (22 points, five assists) did good work, but Wayne Ellington missed a three that would have tied it with 13 seconds left and Hassan Whiteside (16 points, 10 rebounds) had a neglible impact down the stretch.