Heat Check: Miami rallies, pushes Minnesota to limit in loss
MIAMI — The Miami Heat squandered a chance to open a lead in the race for the Eastern Conference top seed on Friday night, when they lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves 122-121 in double overtime.
Minnesota’s Corey Brewer hit 1 of 2 free throws with 1.8 seconds left to put ahead Minnesota in the second overtime. Ray Allen’s shot at the final buzzer failed.
Brewer went to the line after Norris Cole was called for fouling the Timberwolves forward near the basket where he tried to grab a lob pass from teammate Kevin Love.
"It was a great game with overtimes and players stepping up and making big plays on both ends of the court," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "You just want to see players decide it at the end."
LeBron James had 34 points, eight rebounds and five assists for the Heat, who had a four-game winning streak snapped.
James did not touch the ball on Miami’s final possession, on which Allen took the inbounds from Shane Battier.
"It’s a little frustrating, being in this position again and not being able to get the last shot," James said. "It happened in the Indiana game, and it happened tonight as well. It’s a little frustrating but I’m a little over it by now.
"Right after the game, I was a little frustrated by it. You give me a second, you give me two seconds, I feel like I can get a look at the basket."
Miami (52-23) remained percentage points ahead of Indiana (53-24), which was defeated at Toronto 102-94.
"I let it go, man. I’m over it. We’ve been dong this for a month now — they lose, we lose, we win, they win," said Chris Bosh, who had 24 points and nine rebounds. "I just take it as it goes."
The Heat rallied to tie the score in regulation after trailing by seven points with three minutes to go.
Mario Chalmers had a chance to put Miami ahead with 3.9 seconds left in the fourth quarter, but sank just 1 of 2 free throws to tie the score at 97. Love’s 3-point try at the regulation buzzer went in and out.
The scenario repeated itself in the first overtime, when Chalmers hit 1 of 2 free throws to tie the score with 1.9 seconds remaining. Love then had a 3-point try hit the rim and bounce away.
"I pride myself on being a clutch player. I feel like I let my team down by missing those free throws," sad Chalmers, who who hit 8 of 10 from the foul line overall. "I missed the two most important ones."
Chalmers scored a season-high 24 points.
Allen returned after missing five games due to the flu. He had 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting, including 2 of 6 from 3-point range.
Dwyane Wade (hamstring) and Greg Oden (back) sat for the fifth straight time.
Love had 28 points and 11 rebounds for the Timberwolves. Chase Budinger had 24 points — 7-of-9 shooting, 5 of 7 from 3-point range — off the bench
Miami had defeated Love-less Minnesota by 21 points in early December.
THE TURNING POINT
James missed 1 of 2 free throws, failing to tie the score, with 16.2 seconds in the second overtime. That forced Miami to foul J.J. Barea with 13 .1 seconds on the clock. Barea sank both foul shots to give the Timberwolves a 121-118 edge.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER
Budinger gets the nod over Love. The sharpshooter hit 5 treys.
STAT OF THE GAME
Battier played 1 second Friday night. He entered the game to make the final inbounds pass.
The Heat will play the New York Knicks in the fourth of five straight home games on Sunday at 1 p.m.