Heat Check: Hassan Whiteside comes through on glass, in clutch
MIAMI -- In a back-and-forth battle at AmericanAirlines Arena Wednesday night, the Miami Heat outlasted the Los Angeles Lakers 100-94 behind a monster effort from Hassan Whiteside.
Miami was able to pull away in crunch time thanks to Goran Dragic (21 points, six assists), Dwyane Wade (25 points, six assists, five rebounds), and Whiteside (18 points, 25 rebounds, four blocks) to put away a pesky Lakers team that threatened to win for just the eighth time on the road.
Despite the Lakers shooting close to 60 percent in the first half, they had little to show for it with a five-point lead entering the third quarter. The Heat played the Lakers evenly, but were their own worst enemy at times with sloppy play and several careless turnovers. Although they were able to get to the free-throw line consistently in the first half -- 13 free-throw attempts to the Lakers' six -- they only converted one 3-pointer in eight attempts.
The Heat took their first lead of the second half five minutes into the third quarter at 59-57. Dragic began picking up the pace and the Heat were able to score easy buckets in transition. After a Henry Walker 3-pointer with three minutes left in the third quarter gave the Heat their first double-digit lead of the game, the Lakers responded with an 8-0 run to set up a tight final quarter.
The Lakers tied the game early in the fourth quarter at 78 on a Wesley Johnson jumper and re-took the lead with less then eight minutes remaining as Wade and Whiteside sat on the bench.
The two players connected on two plays that set up the victory with less then a minute remaining, with Wade notching back-to-back assists to Whiteside.
"It was a good play by Wade," Whiteside said. "I just finished it. He threw it up way behind me. It just happened to go in. With Wade, you just have to always be on your toes."
THE TURNING POINT
The Lakers went scoreless and lost their lead for good during a critical four-minute stretch in the fourth quarter until Jordan Clarkson made a free throw with 1:44 left in the game.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER
Whiteside controlled the glass for the entire game, but it was his crunch time performance that won it for Miami. He scored eight of his team's final nine points in the last three minutes.
"We are still getting comfortable with his game," Wade said. "Coach is running some plays to him. He will get it more as he goes on. He just has to continue to never stop doing what he is doing on the offensive and defensive glass."
STAT OF THE GAME
Miami shot 40.5 percent for the game and 18.8 percent from beyond the arc despite the Lakers entering the game last in the league with 106.0 points allowed and second-worst in opponent field-goal percentage and 3-point shooting.
The Heat hit the road to face the Washington Wizards on Friday at 7:30 p.m.