Barry Jackson

Heat squanders chance to clinch playoff spot, loses third time to Nets

Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic drives against Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) and center Jarrett Allen (31) during the first quarter of Saturday’s game.
Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic drives against Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) and center Jarrett Allen (31) during the first quarter of Saturday’s game. dsantiago@miamiherald.com

Five takeaways from the Heat’s 110-109 overtime loss to the visiting Brooklyn Nets on Saturday:

1. The Heat, inexplicably and inexcusably, lost three times this season to the Nets, who were 3-1 against Miami and 22-50 against everybody else. This one was particularly exasperating because the Heat had a chance to clinch a playoff berth with a win.

The Heat’s magic number remains one and Miami can clinch if the Nets beat Detroit at 6 p.m. Sunday in Brooklyn. If the Pistons win that game, Miami can clinch at home Tuesday against Atlanta.

Miami led by 14 in the first quarter but was outscored 32-21 in the third and fell behind by nine with just under seven minutes left in the fourth.

The Heat rallied behind James Johnson to force overtime. But Dwyane Wade missed three shots in the final 27 seconds.

First, he missed a jumper and layup and Josh Richardson missed a three. Wade appeared to injure his hand on the layup but remained in the game and said afterward that he’s fine.

But Miami retained possession off a James Johnson offensive rebound. With the clock ticking down after a Heat timeout, Wade spun to the basket but his shot rolled out with 1.8 seconds left and Caret LeVert rebounded, giving the Nets the win.

DeMarre Carroll appeared to foul Wade on the play with his right arm, but a foul wasn’t called. Wade was predictably irked.

Erik Spoelstra said Wade was fouled and when the NBA’s daily two-minute officiating report comes out Sunday acknowledging that, the Heat will say “thanks for nothing.”

Wade also thought it was a foul.

For the second and third quarters, the Nets seemed to play with more energy than Miami, which allowed too many open threes, bogged down offensively in the third quarter.

The Heat played with far more passion and defensive verve in the final six minutes but Goran Dragic missed a turnaround jumper at the buzzer.

Johnson scored 12 of his 18 in the fourth quarter and Miami got good work, during stretches, from Kelly Olynyk (16 points, 8 rebounds), Hassan Whiteside (14, 6) and Justise Winslow (11, 7) had some good moments.

But Josh Richardson shot just 6 for 16, Wade 5 for 16 and Wayne Ellington 0 for 3. Dragic scored 14 points in the first half, just four after intermission.  

2. The Heat has played nearly 30 years, spanning more than 180 in-season months. But never has a Heat team averaged more points in a single month than Miami did in March.

The Heat entered averaging 111.9 points in 15 games and needed 97 points against the Nets to set the franchise record for highest scoring average in a month. Miami surpassed that mark.

"I love it," Spoelstra said of Miami’s historic scoring month. "Our team has been trending in that direction. The team has been playing better offensively. We've done it the right way. Guys are enjoying teammates' success. Those are the ingredients of a great offense. Not just sitting around watching somebody else shoot."

Several factors contributed to that scoring record: sterling shooting, unselfish play, a reduction in turnovers, a faster pace and four high-scoring overtime games, including a 149-141 win against Denver.

"Our pace went higher, especially the pitch aheads," Goran Dragic said.

The Heat entered shooting 47.2 percent from the field in March and 37.6 percent on threes.

Miami entered having increased its scoring average by 11.6 points since the All-Star break – the fourth highest jump in NBA history.

3. Miami lost for the 10th time to a team well below .500.

The Nets had administered two of those nine losses, including a 111-89 drubbing on Dec. 29 at AmericanAirlines Arena – perhaps the Heat’s most atrocious loss of the Heat – and a 101-95 Nets win Jan. 19 in Brooklyn.

That’s inexcusable and a big reason why the Heat finds itself in eighth in the East, a half game behind No. 7 Milwaukee.

The Heat also has lost twice to Sacramento, twice to Orlando and to Atlanta, Chicago and New York.

4. Spoelstra shrunk his bench. He bypassed using Rodney McGruder and Bam Adebayo, opting for nine players.

Asked why, he said: “We’re healthy. We didn’t necessarily tighten up. We played a nine-man rotation. Nothing’s set in stone. It could be different guys the next game.”

5. Ellington shot 0 for 3, including 0 for 2 on threes, in 22 minutes and Miami is now 1-9 in games where he fails to hit a three.

Ellington is closing in on two records. He has 201 threes off the bench, five short of Eric Gordon’s NBA record for most three-pointers made by a player coming off the bench, set last season.

They’re the only two players in NBA history with 200 three-pointers off the bench in a single season.

And with 210 threes overall, Ellington is closing in on Damon Jones’ Heat franchise record for threes in a season (225, set in 2004-05).

And this too: Ellington entered having attempted 82.8 percent of his shots from three-point range. No player has ever attempted that high a percentage of shots from beyond the arc since the NBA implemented the three-point shot in 1979-80. Previous high: 81.6 percent by Steve Novac in 2012-13.

But this was a rare off night for Ellington, and Miami suffered.

The other big story of the night was Hassan Whiteside’s expletive-laced rant about his lack of playing time. Please click here for everything Whiteside said about that and some perspective.

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