Heat Check: Miami can breathe sigh of relief after taking care of Nets

MIAMI — A day after suffering their worst loss in more than four years, the Miami Heat returned home to beat the Brooklyn Nets 88-84 Sunday for a much-needed victory.

Chris Bosh (26 points, five rebounds) and Dwyane Wade (25 points, seven assists, six rebounds) paced the Heat from start to finish, but Miami also enjoyed a huge contribution from Hassan Whiteside off the bench, who made his presence felt immediately on both ends of the floor and was active in the paint.

The Heat avoided a slow start to the second half and managed to keep the Nets at bay and preserve their halftime lead. Brooklyn — winners of six of their past seven games entering Sunday — never came close to threatening due to their weak outside shooting and an ineffective starting backcourt of Jarrett Jack and Sergey Karasev. Joe Johnson led his team with 19 points but shot 8 of 22 from the field, and Brook Lopez and Deron Williams came off the bench to help give the Nets a boost, especially in the second half.

Though the Heat didn’t exactly dominate the game, the Nets never led but came close several times. They cut the deficit to 61-57 with three minutes left in the third quarter before Bosh responded with a 3-pointer, and Brooklyn also came within a basket in crunch time. Every time the Nets were close, the Heat responded with a timely basket — a welcome sign for a team looking to hold serve at AmericanAirlines Arena.

The Heat announced a season-high in attendance with 20,181, and their next home game isn’t until Jan. 20 against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The victory improves their home record to 7-12.

THE TURNING POINT

Brooklyn cut the lead to three points with a minute remaining in what looked like it could be another heartbreaking loss but Wade was fouled after missing a shot to make it a two-possession game. Wade and Bosh made their free throws to close out the game.

THE DIFFERENCE MAKER

Whiteside was instrumental to the Heat’s success in his first career double-double game with 11 points, a season-high 10 rebounds and a career-high five blocks. Just as important, he avoided foul trouble and was able to stay on the floor for 27 minutes with just one personal foul.

STAT OF THE GAME

Heat vs. Nets

Wade or Bosh were the only Heat players to score more than two points in the second half.

WHAT’S NEXT

Miami begins its five-game West Coast trip against the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday at 10:30 p.m.

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