Heat Check: Hassan Whiteside's marvelous game not enough against Timberwolves
A day after suffering one of their worst losses of the season in Detroit, the Miami Heat lost 102-101 to the NBA-worst Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.
After a strong third quarter, the Heat appeared ready to take control of the game but instead allowed the Timberwolves to retake the lead in the closing minutes for Miami's fourth loss in its past five games.
Hassan Whiteside had a dominant performance with 24 points and 20 rebounds. He was unstoppable in the paint, grabbing nine offensive rebounds and scoring at will inside while showing a nice shooting touch from midrange. Whiteside knocked down his first 11 shots of the game in his fifth double-double in his past six games.
The trio of Mario Chalmers, Shabazz Napier and Norris Cole bounced back after combining for three points against the Pistons. Chris Bosh was red-hot against the Pistons but struggled with his shot Wednesday and closed with 14 points on 5-of-14 shooting.
The Heat began the game in sloppy fashion, with five turnovers in the first five minutes that the Timberwolves took advantage of to score in transition. Point guard Ricky Rubio was particularly effective early, with four assists on his team's first five field goals.
Behind the improved play from its backcourt, Miami gradually took apart the league's worst defensive team and played them evenly for the rest of the first half. A quick 13-2 Heat run yielded their first lead of the night three minutes into the third quarter at 59-57. Miami stretched its lead to double digits by the end of the quarter.
But a poor fourth-quarter performance on both ends doomed them in crunch time, and the Heat struggled to score against the same team allowing a league-worst 106.7 points per game. Minnesota secured just its ninth win of the season and fifth at home by executing in crunch time as Miami went cold and committed several late-game blunders to seal its fate.
THE TURNING POINT
The Heat were up by 10 points with less then 10 minutes left in the game when they gave up the lead after a 16-4 run to Minnesota.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER
Kevin Martin scored from all points on the floor to finish with 30 points on 11-of-18 shooting, including the game-winner with 41 seconds left.
STAT OF THE GAME
Whiteside was the only Heat player to convert a field goal in a seven-minute stretch in the fourth quarter while the Timberwolves made their decisive run.
Miami wraps up its road trip with an NBA Finals rematch against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday at 9:30 p.m.