Heat Check: Turnovers, injury to Hassan Whiteside costly against Thunder
MIAMI — The Miami Heat welcomed back Dwyane Wade from injury in their return home Tuesday night but lost starting center Hassan Whiteside early before losing 94-86 to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
An entertaining first half was marred by the loss of Whiteside to a sprained right ankle after a promising start to the game in which he scored 10 of the team’s first 15 points. Chris Andersen played well in his absence but it wasn’t enough on his own to make up for the early dominance Whiteside was showing in the paint.
Miami went on a scoring drought midway through the second quarter, and the Thunder took advantage with a 12-0 run to erase a six-point deficit and take their first lead of the night. From there, it turned into a dogfight with the teams exchanging the lead. But with Chris Bosh and Wade the only reliable scorers for the Heat, it was only a matter of time before the Thunder would start to take control of the game.
The Heat’s struggles in the second half returned, with the team only managing 36 total points. Though Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook shot poorly, they found other ways to make a difference in the game. Both stars scored 19 points on a combined 17-of-31 shooting — including 0-for-10 from long range — but contributed 18 rebounds and 14 assists to get their team over .500 for the first time this season.
The loss drops Miami to 7-13 at the AmericanAirlines Arena and five games below .500.
THE TURNING POINT
After Andersen brought the Heat to within two points with six minutes left in the game, the Thunder went on a 12-6 run to close the game. The final margin of victory was their largest lead of the game.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER
Rarely does a game’s difference maker play only 11 minutes but that’s precisely what happened after Whiteside landed awkwardly on Perkins in the second quarter and twisted his ankle. Without their leading scorer at that point in the game and their best interior defender, the Heat could do little to stop the Thunder from getting back into the game.
STAT OF THE GAME
The Heat’s nine turnovers in the first quarter due to sloppy passing robbed them of a chance to build a sizable lead while the Thunder struggled with just 41.7 percent shooting. Miami finished with 19 turnovers, one of which in crunch time gifted an uncontested basket for Westbrook to ice the game.
The Heat hit the road to face the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday at 7 p.m.