The Miami Heat kicked off their six game road trip with a tough loss in Denver Friday night 95-94. Miami came out of the gate incredibly fast but could not sustain the momentum in the second half. Turnovers and poor decisions came back to haunt them in a hard fought game.
In the first half Miami lived up to their nickname and were absolutely on fire in the first 24 minutes. The Heat took a 58-51 lead into the locker room and finished the first half shooting almost 65 percent from the floor. Goran Dragic was a fire breathing dragon from behind the arc in the first half hitting all four of his attempts and had 18 points at the break. Okaro White got his second consecutive start and provided great energy.
After the break it was a completely different story as the Heat came out cold as ice and only managed 13 points in the third quarter. Turnovers were a huge problem in the entire game with Miami committing 23, which led to 25 points for the Nuggets. In a very competitive game this made all of the difference. Erik Spoelstra is still looking for steady rotations at this point of the season, he threw out a unique small lineup with five shooters and Kelly Olynyk at center.
Like that lineup on the floor for a minute Dragic/Dion/TJ/JJ/Olynyk 5 great shooters hope to see more of that
— 🌊 Miami Sports Wave 🌊 (@MiamiSportsWave) November 4, 2017
With the injuries to Whiteside in the short term and Rodney McGruder for an extended period, Spoelstra has to try multiple combinations that have not played together much if at all. Rebounding was a problem in this game, in addition to the poor effort on the glass from Whiteside, the Heat were out-rebounded 52-48 and more importantly outscored in the paint 50-34.
Trailing 76-71 entering the fourth quarter, Miami picked up the energy and intensity on both ends of the floor. The Heat managed to climb back into the lead at 94-92 with under a minute left. The turning point of the game was a sequence where James Johnson fouled Paul Millsap from behind the three point line, earning three free throws in the process. Millsap had just missed two free throws right before but calmly drained all three, he finished with a game high 27 points. Miami had one last chance for the win but Dion Waiters missed a three pointer right before the buzzer.
It was an uneven game for the Heat, after the first half the team had trouble scoring and taking care of the ball. Hassan Whiteside struggled in his second game back from injury and finished with only 13 points and three rebounds. The bench was a real issue for Miami, other than James Johnson who had 15 points the remaining bench players only contributed 13 points in total. Up next for the Heat is the Los Angeles Clippers Sunday Nov. 5 at 3:30PM Eastern.
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