Heat Check: Miami outlasts Celtics despite another fourth-quarter slump

Miami Heat forward Michael Beasley (30) drives against Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas, left, and Boston Celtics center Kelly Olynyk, right, in the first half of an NBA basketball game.

Elise Amendola/AP

Despite being severely shorthanded, the Miami Heat shook off the previous night’s disappointing setback to outlast the Boston Celtics 93-86 on Wednesday.

After losing a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter at the buzzer to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Heat again yielded a huge run to the home team, only this time they won it on defense down the stretch.

Without Dwyane Wade to steady the team, and lacking any inside presence without Hassan Whiteside or Chris Andersen, the Heat’s offense was anchored to the perimeter. They were outscored 24-11 in the fourth quarter — one night after getting outscored 24-9 by the Bucks in the final 12 minutes.

The Heat led by as many as 22 late in the third quarter, but a quick 14-4 run to start the fourth quarter cut the deficit to single digits and momentum had clearly swung to the Celtics.

Wade (knee), Andersen (calf), and Whiteside (hand laceration) were all ruled out before tipoff, but the Miami played well in the first half on both ends with a small lineup featuring Udonis Haslem starting at center. Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson combined to score 14 points and the team shot 59 percent while limiting the Celtics to 38.9 percent shooting in the first quarter.

Miami then put together a 12-4 run midway through the second quarter to build a double-digit lead that lasted until early in the fourth quarter.

The victory was crucial for their playoff seeding and also secured a pivotal tiebreaker against the Celtics, who are now two games behind the Heat in the final No. 8 spot.

THE TURNING POINT

Heat 93, Celtics 86

Boston had cut it to 89-83 with two minutes left, but the Heat’s defense held them without a point until 21 seconds remained.

THE DIFFERENCE MAKER

Dragic led his team with 22 points, seven assists and five rebounds and won several 50/50 balls with his hustle. His ability to penetrate and finish at the rim was especially needed without Wade.

STAT OF THE GAME

Haslem’s 12 points and 12 rebounds marked his first double-double since April 9, 2013.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Heat visit the Atlanta Hawks on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

You can follow Surya Fernandez on Twitter @SuryaHeatNBA or email him at SuryaFoxSports@gmail.com.