Just hot enough
Winslow’s 26 points help push resilient Heat north of the .500 mark
MIAMI — This time the Miami Heat followed up something good with something good enough, which in many ways was all that was requested.
No, this was not nearly as dynamic a performance as Thursday’s tour de force against the Boston Celtics. But it was a moment when the Heat also didn’t play down to the level of the competition, or at least not long enough to get them beat.
So even with a few shaky moments at the close, the Heat found a way Saturday to push past the Memphis Grizzlies 112-108 at AmericanAirlines Arena and move back above .500 at 21-20 at midseason.
“Well, they missed a couple of shots, we got a couple of stops,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “And we just found a way to close it.
“There was some progress in this one.” Justise Winslow led the Heat with 26 points on a night of otherwise balanced scoring for the Heat.
“He puts in a great deal of time on his game,” Spoelstra said. “This first half tonight, there was a need for him to be more aggressive.”
It was a rocky ride, but ultimately a successful one.
“It’s about picking up wins,” said Dwyane Wade, who again played as closer for the Heat.
The Heat led by 13 in the third quarter and went into the fourth up 91-83. And then it was tied 108-108 in the final minute. From there, with Winslow off with a 10-foot jumper, Memphis’ Mike Conley Jr. missed an open floater and fouled Heat center Bam Adebayo with 55.9 seconds to play. At 4 of 5 from the line to that stage, Adebayo made only the second foul shot, to put the Heat up 109-108.
But that is when Grizzlies center 2. First things: Speaking of the Heat Marc Gasol air-balled an open starting lineup . . . changes could be on 3-pointer with 31 seconds to play. the way. Rodney McGruder and
Wade missed a jumper, but RichJames Johnson both played the openardson secured the offensive rebound ing 4:22 — and that was it for the first half.andwasfouledwith9.5secondsto play. Like Adebayo, he made only one With Hassan Whiteside out due to of the two free throws, leaving the illness, the Heat went with their 16th Heat up 110-108. starting lineup, with Adebayo doing
The Heat then forced a jump ball his job off the boards. with 4.0 seconds to play off a blocked Spoelstra went for instant energy shot by Wade. Wade then won the early, with Derrick Jones Jr. entering jump, with Richardson fouled on the with Dwyane Wade as the Heat’s first play, to close out the scoring. substitutes.
“I think I mustered everything I The approach worked, but it also had to jump,” Wade said. ultimately left Dion Waiters as 10th
Five degrees of Heat from Satman, entering after Tyler Johnson and urday’s game: Kelly Olynyk. Waiters also was the fifth substitute to enter in the second half. 1. Justise binge-slow: This was more than Justise Winslow shooting 7 of 9 for 18 first-half points. This was Winslow keeping a shaky Heat starting lineup afloat early, with no other Heat starter with more than Richardson’s seven first-half points.
“His confidence is at an all-time high,” Richardson said.
With four first-half assists, Winslow accounted for half of the Heat’s first-half scoring.
He kept going from there, now with double-digit points in 10 consecutive games for the first time in his NBA career.
“I was just being aggressive,” he said. “The looks were just there.”
He added seven rebound and four assists.
“The stat line might look a little different each game,” Spoelstra said. “But he has that kind of mind to be able to develop that.”
3. Message received: Spoelstra’s irritability in the two days leading up to this clearly was a message to his team that it is not good enough to ease off the gas.
Whether the testiness was genuine or otherwise, the message worked, with the Heat not allowing Thursday’s impressive victory over the Boston Celtics create a letdown against a team that entered 14th in the Western Conference.
“There’s a lot of things on my mind,” Spoelstra said going in. “I just want us to get to a different level. That’s my main message with our team. Consistency is a part of it.”
4. Three for all: A game after converting a season-high 18 3-pointers, the Heat were 10 of 15 from beyond the arc in Saturday’s first half and closed 15 of 31, their highest two-game total for threes this season.
Beyond Winslow’s long-distance accuracy, there were multiple 3-pointers from Tyler Johnson and Olynyk, in a game the Heat went into with a decided bench advantage.
5. Subtly smooth: With Winslow scoring, Richardson played more as playmaker, closing with a career-high nine assists.
“I think I’m starting to make better reads,” he said.
Richardson’s previous career high had been eight, with his previous season high at seven.
“We’re getting better in terms of helping each other generate open looks,” Spoelstra said. “J-Rich was able to be aggressive, and because of his size he was able to make plays over the top.”
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Justise Winslow of the Heat keeps his eyes on the basket and scores two of his 26 points in the victory over the Grizzlies on Saturday.