Suns snap 17-game slide, top reeling Heat 124-121
Turns out, the jersey wasn’t even the biggest prize.
Booker scored 20 points, Phoenix played a nearly flawless fourth quarter and the Suns snapped their club-record 17-game losing streak by topping the reeling Heat 124-121 on Monday night. The Suns shot 78 percent in the final period, and scored 72 points after halftime to stun a Heat team that dropped its sixth straight home game.
“It feels like we’re out,” Booker said. “It feels like we were in prison.”
Deandre Ayton offered an even more-succinct analysis: “Hallelujah,” said the Suns’ rookie and No. 1 pick in last year’s draft.
Former Heat guard Tyler Johnson scored 18 points for Phoenix, which hadn’t won since Jan. 12. Jamal Crawford and Kelly Oubre Jr. each had 16 and were huge down the stretch for Phoenix, while Ayton and Troy Daniels each had 14 and Josh Jackson scored 11 for the Suns.
Hassan Whiteside scored 29 points and Kelly Olynyk added 28 for the Heat, who have dropped six straight at home for the second time this season and 13 of their last 18 overall. Missing four often-starters or regular rotation players, Miami went largely with an eight-man rotation and could barely get any stops in the final quarter.
“It went back and forth until we ran out of time,” said Wade, who scored 13. “It’s obviously unfortunate. This game hurts.”
Phoenix improved to 2-42 this season when trailing after three quarters, and snapped a 42-game losing streak in road games when trailing entering the final period.
“We played desperate, we played with a sense of urgency and we came here not just to play — we came to win a game,” Suns coach Igor Kokoskov said. “And I’m glad we did.”
After the Booker free throws, the next Miami possession saw Wade miss a turnaround jumper even after getting a good look over the 7-foot Ayton. Bam Adebayo had a chance at the tip-in, couldn’t get it to fall, and Oubre went to the line with 2.1 seconds left. He made both, Miami had no time-out left to call, and Wade’s desperation 55-footer wasn’t close.
“Ball didn’t go in the hole, bruh,” Adebayo said of the missed tip. “Not going to sleep over that one tonight.”
Johnson got the return to Miami he wanted — a win against his former club.
Now, he can resume rooting for the Heat, even after he helped deal their quest for an Eastern Conference playoff berth a serious blow.
“These are my guys,” said Johnson, who was traded earlier this month. “Obviously, I want to see them be successful. I would never wish for anything negative on their careers. Luckily I’m in the opposite conference, so it is a little bit easier to cheer for them. I hope they figure it out. I know they will.”
Suns: Amid all the losing, it’s perhaps difficult to remember that Phoenix has beaten Milwaukee, Denver, Boston and San Antonio this season. … The Suns shot 51 percent for the game and 62 percent in the second half.
Heat: Miami was without James Johnson (shoulder), Rodney McGruder (knee), Justise Winslow (knee) and Derrick Jones Jr. (flu). … The team held its 11th annual Gala on Sunday, raising more than $1 million to be distributed to various causes through the Miami Heat Charitable Fund.
MISERY HAS COMPANY
Phoenix avoided joining New York as the second team to have an 18-game losing streak this season. This would have been the first NBA season since 1981-82 in which multiple franchises have lost at least 18 consecutive games; that season, Utah (18), Cleveland (19) and the San Diego Clippers (19) endured such a streak.
WADE VS. SUNS
Wade played against the Suns for the 23rd and final time. The Heat were 17-5 with him against Phoenix, and Chicago went 1-1 against the Suns in Wade’s one season as a member of the Bulls. He averaged 22.9 points in the 23 games against the Suns.
Suns: Host New Orleans on Friday. The Suns are starting a four-game homestand.
Heat: Host Golden State on Wednesday. The Heat lost 120-118 to the Warriors on Feb. 10.