Heat check: Goran Dragic’s double-double leads Miami past 76ers
MIAMI — With Goran Dragic leading the way by recording a double-double, the Miami Heat cruised to a comfortable 119-108 victory against the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night.
Playing against one of the worst teams in the NBA helps matters, but the chemistry between Dragic and his new teammates grew during a big third-quarter run helped put the pesky Sixers away.
The first half was evenly matched despite the Heat shooting 60 percent from the field and showing much more cohesiveness on offense than they showed Saturday against the New Orleans Pelicans. The Sixers kept pace with seven 3-pointers in the first half as Nerlens Noel, Hollis Thompson and Robert Covington each reached double figures in scoring.
"It was much different tonight," said coach Erik Spoelstra. "The ball was moving. Multiple actions, multiple passes. Guys were working for a better shot rather than just taking the first available shot."
Dragic looked much more comfortable in his second game with the Heat, recording seven assists by halftime and getting into the flow of the offense. He was more aggressive with the ball and repeatedly drove to the basket by using misdirection and a crafty stutter step to great effect. But without making any stops on defense, the Heat could not create distance between themselves and the Sixers, having to settle for the 61-60 halftime score before their big second half put away any fears of another home loss.
In one of his best games as a member of the Heat, Luol Deng led all scorers with 29 points on a variety of drives to the basket and midrange shots. His constant movement off the ball to shake free from his defender was a critical component to the Heat’s offense, especially in the first half while Dragic and Dwyane Wade were warming up. In just 23 minutes, Wade was efficient with 18 points and was able to sit out the fourth quarter. In his Heat debut, Henry Walker connected on his first four shots, including three 3-pointers, to add 11 points.
"We are just trying to win games," Wade said. "We are trying to come together as a team. You just have to stick with it. We just want to win the ball game. When they make shots you just have to stick with it, eventually we can get enough defensive stops. Offensively we will get a lot better."
The Turning Point
With the Heat down 71-70 halfway through the third, they went on their first big run of the game by outscoring the Sixers 21-8 the rest of the quarter to open up their biggest lead of the night.
The Difference Maker
Dragic brought order and dynamism as the orchestrator of the Heat’s offense in just his second game with the team. He had 11 points in the third quarter alone to power their big run and finished with 23 points and 10 assists.
"Once he gets the ball in his hands, he’s taking off and that really pulls everybody with him," Spoelstra said.
Stat of the Game
Miami reached its season high in points with 119.
The team will travel to Orlando to face the Magic at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.