‘Vice’ not too nice

Heat roll out new uni­forms but then are un­able to close against Pac­ers

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - SPORTS - By Ira Win­der­man

The “Vice Nights” uni­forms and court de­sign weren’t the only re­minders Fri­day night of what Mi­ami Heat bas­ket­ball used to be like at since-razed Mi­ami Arena.

So was the phys­i­cal­ity. The con­stant whis­tles. The col­li­sions that left a player for each team re­treat­ing the locker room.

It was as if ghosts of Alonzo Mourn­ing, P.J. Brown and Bruce Bowen past ac­com­pa­nied the color scheme.

Ul­ti­mately, the Heat’s third grind game in as many out­ings this week turned into a 110-102 loss to the In­di­ana Pac­ers to open a set of back-to-back “Vice Nights” games that con­cludes Sat­ur­day against the vis­it­ing Wash­ing­ton Wiz­ards.

Suc­ces­sive 3-point­ers from Josh Richard­son and Wayne Elling­ton fol­lowed by a pair of Jus­tise Winslow bas­kets staked the Heat to a 98-92 lead with just over four min­utes to play.

But even with that as part of an 11-2 Heat run, the lead was gone when Pac­ers for­ward Bo­jan Bog­danovich con­verted a 3-pointer for a 103-102 In­di­ana lead with 56.5 sec­onds to play. A Vic­tor Oladipo jumper fol­lowed with 32.1 sec­onds left to ex­tend In­di­ana’s lead to 105-102.

Richard­son then com­mit­ted a turnover, putting In­di­ana back in pos­ses­sion with 21.4 sec­onds to play, ef­fec­tively end­ing it.

Kelly Olynyk scored 20 for the Heat, with Richard­son adding 18, Tyler John­son 15, Winslow 11, Rod­ney McGruder 11 and Has­san Whiteside with a 11-point, 20-re­bound dou­ble-dou­ble.

With his per­for­mance, Whiteside joined Rony Seikaly as the only Heat play­ers with con­sec­u­tive 20-re­bound games.

The Heat could have made it far eas­ier on them­selves if not for 24 turnovers and 16-of-27 foul shoot­ing.

Five de­grees of Heat from Fri­day’s game:

1. To­tally Tyler: Amid an un­even sea­son and chal­lenges for his play­ing time, John­son stepped for­ward early when needed Fri­day night.

With Go­ran Dragic and Dwyane Wade out, and with most of the perime­ter ro­ta­tion in early foul trou­ble, John­son scored 13 first-half points, mak­ing his first three 3-point at­tempts.

John­son again was the lone Heat guard avail­able off the bench, of­ten work­ing as the backup point guard.

Fri­day’s per­for­mance only fur­ther mud­dles Erik Spoel­stra’s de­ci­sions when Wade and Dragic re­turn, now that Elling­ton also is in the ro­ta­tion.

2. Olynyk tested: Olynyk helped the Heat play through Whiteside’s foul trou­ble, clos­ing the first half with 14 points on 5-of-6 shoot­ing.

But there was a price paid. Twice.

Olynyk’s most im­pact­ful play came with 1:38 to play in the sec­ond pe­riod, when he ab­sorbed an el­bow to the face from Pac­ers for­ward Thad­deus Young while de­fend­ing at the 3-point line. Young was called for a Fla­grant 2 foul and ejected. That helped the Heat move to a 59-51 half­time lead.

But Olynyk then was down and even­tu­ally went to the locker room with 11:40 to play in the fourth quar­ter af­ter draw­ing an of­fen­sive foul on Tyreke Evans that left Olynyk clutch­ing his ribs. Olynyk ini­tially was called for a de­fen­sive foul, but when the play was re­viewed for a pos­si­ble fla­grant foul on Evans it was over­turned to an of­fen­sive foul.

3. Dragic waits: Dragic missed his sec­ond con­sec­u­tive game with a sore right knee and now has missed three of the past four games, out last Sat­ur­day against the At­lanta Hawks due to a foot is­sue.

“He had a bruise that just numbed his legs,” Spoel­stra said. “He’s get­ting move­ment back in his leg, his lower leg, his feet. It’s com­ing along. The bruise ac­tu­ally feels OK right now.”

Wade missed his sec­ond con­sec­u­tive game in the wake of Wed­nes­day’s birth of his daugh­ter.

Spoel­stra said Wade also would be out Sat­ur­day.

“It’s day to day,” Spoel­stra said. “But as much time as he needs.”

The Heat also ex­pected to be with­out for­ward Derrick Jones Jr. due to a knee in­jury sus­tained in Wed­nes­day’s vic­tory over the San An­to­nio Spurs. But af­ter be­ing ruled out fol­low­ing the morn­ing shootaround, he was in the ro­ta­tion Fri­day.

4. All or noth­ing: If Elling­ton isn’t hit­ting 3-point­ers, the bal­ance in his matchup in­evitably turns in the op­po­si­tion’s fa­vor. The open­ing matchup Fri­day against Oladipo cer­tainly didn’t help.

Elling­ton missed both of his 3-point at­tempts be­fore be­ing forced to the bench with his fifth foul with 6:10 to play in the third pe­riod.

But he then re­turned to con­vert a 3-pointer that put the Heat up 93-90 mid­way through the fourth quar­ter.

Elling­ton was feel­ing good go­ing in, with this his sec­ond con­sec­u­tive start.

“I was telling the guys yes­ter­day, it felt great be­ing back out there with ‘em,” he said. “I felt like my­self again, just that team ca­ma­raderie.”

5. Growth mo­ment: Called for his fourth foul just nine sec­onds into the sec­ond half, Richard­son still found a way to have an im­pact late af­ter an ex­tended stretch on the bench. It was an­other step for­ward in the evo­lu­tion to­ward lead­ing man.

LYNNE SLADKY/AP

Heat cen­ter Has­san Whiteside (21) cel­e­brates with guard Josh Richard­son (0) af­ter scor­ing dur­ing the first half Fri­day.

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