Heat Check: Miami’s win streak halted as late lead slips away
The Miami Heat had a three-game win streak in hand before the New Orleans Hornets stormed back late in the game to steal a 104-102 win Friday.
It was the second victory against the Heat in less then a week for the Pelicans. Miami proved to be a much stronger opponent from the outset against New Orleans this time around, however.
Pelicans guard Eric Gordon (20 points, eight assists) was hot from the outside to help New Orleans keep pace before the Heat reeled off a 8-2 run to end the first quarter.
A day after signing a 10-day contract, Michael Beasley made his season debut and quickly scored seven points in seven minutes in the second quarter. Though the Heat were aggressive attacking the rim, they didn’t take their first free throws until midway through the second quarter.
Miami went on a 18-8 run to end the third quarter, but New Orleans responded with six straight points to begin the fourth quarter. The host team tied the game at 80 thanks to several trips to the free-throw line after getting into the bonus early in the quarter.
Miami was up by nine late in the game before Tyreke Evans (19 points, 11 assists) and Alexis Ajinca helped erased the deficit. Hassan Whiteside had a wide open basket at the rim but was blocked by Omer Asik. Though the Heat had one last chance, Wade was unable to knock down a 3-pointert that would have won the game.
Luol Deng continued to thrive since the Dragic trade and led Miami with 22 points, followed by Dragic with 20. Henry Walker had another strong game off the bench with 16 points, and Whiteside added 16 points and had seven rebounds and four blocks.
The Heat fell to 25-32 but did not lose any ground in the Eastern Conference standings.
THE TURNING POINT
The Heat allowed 31 points in the final quarter, including 14 points in the final four minutes of the game that erased their lead.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER
Reserve center Ajinca had his best game as a pro with a career-high 24 points along with eight rebounds. He had 14 points in the fourth quarter and the game’s final four points.
STAT OF THE GAME
The back-and-forth game featured 16 ties and 19 lead changes.
Miami hosts the Atlanta Hawks on Friday at 7:30 p.m.