Heat burned by turnovers in road loss to Celtics
BOSTON (AP) — As the trade deadline approached, both Celtics coach Brad Stevens and his players were vocal about hoping their roster remained undisturbed after finding some chemistry that had been missing earlier in the season.
The effort Boston displayed in its 101-89 victory over the Miami Heat Saturday could be the kind of tangible affirmation that it could be built for a deep playoff run.
Marcus Smart had 15 points and six rebounds to lead the Celtics, who posted their 10th consecutive victory at home.
Jae Crowder and Turner each added 14 points. Jared Sullinger added 12 points and 12 rebounds. Six Boston players reached double figures.
"We have a great locker room. I definitely don’t take it for granted," guard Evan Turner said. "I’ve been on teams where it was the other way around. So I definitely appreciate the type of guys we have on the team."
After a strong finish to the first half of the season, Boston stumbled slightly out of the All-Star break. With three wins in its last four outings, Turner said the team is starting to play its most cohesive basketball to date.
"The tide’s turned a little bit. We got acclimated to each other and found out rotations. We’re playing pretty well," he said.
Boston took just a two-point lead into the final period Saturday, but seized control 93-84 with 2:45 to play after a triplet of free throws by Smart.
Goran Dragic led the Heat with 21 points, but was held scoreless in the fourth quarter.
Dwyane Wade finished with 19 points. Hassan Whiteside had 13 points, 15 rebounds and eight blocks.
It was Miami’s second straight loss.
"It’s tough for us to win," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We’re normally in a place where we feel like we’re competitive in those areas, and tonight they beat us to the spot on all those type of plays, everything in between, and you have to credit them for that."
Miami led by as many as 12 in the first half before a 10-2 Celtics run got them back into the game.
Led by Turner, Boston’s bench picked up the slack for Celtics starting guards Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley. They were a combined 4 for 11 from the field, scoring four points in the opening 24 minutes.
"We came out at the start of this game a little flat, and (the bench) came out and helped us get back in the game," Crowder said.
Miami was down to 10 available players entering Saturday with Chris Bosh, Tyler Johnson and Beno Udrih out due to either injury or illness. It got another scare heading into Celtics’ matchup.
Forward Udonis Haslem suffered an allergic reaction to something he put in his hair, which caused some swelling to his head and face. He was active, but did not play.
After the game, the Heat announced that they had signed Joe Johnson, who cleared waivers after being released by the Nets. Johnson gives Miami a much-needed scoring option.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said the focus continues to be on playing that well regardless of the location.
"That’s what’s expected of us," Stevens said. "That has been the same message my entire time. You play between the lines."
Heat: Whiteside posted his fourth straight double-double coming off the bench. He is the first Miami player to do that since Haslem in 2010. … Had 20 turnovers. … Luol Deng appeared in his 800th career NBA game.
Celtics: Scored 20 points off Miami’s turnovers. ..Boston’s bench outscored Miami’s 49-26.
Celtics F Kelly Olynyk missed his fifth straight game Saturday with a right shoulder sprain. He said before the game that his shoulder is getting better slowly, but that there is no change in his timetable for return.
NO STANDINGS WATCHING
Even with so little separation between teams in the Eastern Conference standings, both Spoelstra and Stevens said they are trying not to let it factor into their day-to-day approach. "I think we’re all aware, it’s just not relevant to playing the next possession," Spoelstra said. "Obviously we want to play well against everybody. Certainly your senses are heightened against the better teams around. But every team in this league is capable of beating the other badly on a given night."
Said Stevens: "I think there’s so many games left that all that stuff will iron itself out. You have to focus on playing good basketball."
Miami plays at New York on Sunday.
Boston hosts the Jazz on Monday.