MIAMI — The Heat welcomed Dwyane Wade back to Miami with an emotional video tribute and a loud standing ovation from fans Thursday night. In return, Wade handed the Heat a loss.
Chicago (5-4) defeated Miami 98-95 at AmericanAirlines Arena. The Heat (2-5) have now lost three consecutive games.
“I told the guys in the locker room that we’re closer than it looks, than what our schedule is telling us that it looks like,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We just have to continue plugging away to get over the hump.”
Center Hassan Whiteside finished with 20 points and 20 rebounds. But the Heat struggled to score down the stretch, as Chicago made more plays late in the game to get the victory.
Goran Dragic left the game with a sprained left ankle with 4:50 remaining in the third quarter and did not return.
Here are our five takeaways from the game …
1. This is still Dwyane Wade’s house: Dwyane Wade wasn’t sure how he would be received by Heat fans when he returned to AmericanAirlines Arena. But the 12-time All-Star shouldn’t have doubted his former fan base’s love for him. Heat fans cheered for Wade whenever they got the chance Thursday night. Wade ran onto the court for warmups, Heat fans cheered. Wade was introduced as a Bulls starter before the game, Heat fans cheered. Wade touched the ball, Heat fans cheered. Wade scored his first two points of the game, Heat fans cheered. Wade’s video montage was played during the first timeout, Heat fans went crazy. Wade finished with 13 points on 5-of-17 shooting to go with seven rebounds and four assists in his return to Miami.
“That was great,” Josh Richardson said of competing against Wade. “He’s a great guy, so it’s cool to be able to compete against one of the best of all time and actually know him. It was great to play against one of my mentors.”
2. Heat offense still a work in progress: The Heat entered Thursday’s game ranked 29th out of 30 teams in offensive rating, scoring 96.3 points per 100 possessions this season. It’s hard to say what Miami’s offensive identity is at this point, as the Heat struggled to find a go-to player down the stretch especially with Goran Dragic in the locker room due to his ankle injury. Miami made 40.9 percent of its shots in the loss despite shooting 44.8 percent from beyond the arc. That means scoring in the paint was an issue once again, as the Heat finished with 38 paint points. Miami hasn’t scored more than 46 paint points in a game since exploding for 74 paint points in the season opener against the Magic.
3. Justise Winslow can shoot: It’s only one game, but the Heat were happy to see Justise Winslow snap out of his shooting slump. The 20-year-old entered Thursday’s game shooting 31.1 percent from the field and 15 percent from 3-point range this season. But Winslow showed Thursday night that those numbers could just be an aberration. He made 6-of-12 shots and 3-of-5 shots from 3-point range to finish with 15 points, five rebounds and six assists. Winslow put in a lot of work this offseason to improve his shot and the results had been disappointing through Miami’s first six games. Thursday’s performance gave us a glimpse of what Winslow could be with a reliable outside shot.
4. Josh Richardson is still rusty, but making progress: It’s going to take a little bit for Josh Richardson to return to form after missing eight weeks with a partially torn MCL in his right knee. But the 23-year-old is getting close, finishing with 16 points and knocking down 4-of-7 shots from 3-point range on Thursday. Richardson has now played in three games since returning from the injury Friday against the Raptors. Over the three games, Richardson has made 9-of-25 shots and is averaging 7.7 points off the bench. Richardson admitted that it’s about “just playing yourself into shape” at this point. That’s exactly what he’s doing.
“I’m just getting back,” Richardson said after his best performance of the season Thursday. “My first game, everything is moving really fast and the other day it was still moving kind of fast. Today I just felt almost like myself again.”
5. Dwyane Wade might have made a lateral move: If Thursday’s game was any indication, there isn’t much separating the Heat and the Bulls. Chicago led 23-22 at the end of the first quarter, and the teams were tied 53-53 at halftime and 70-70 at the end of the third quarter before the Bulls outscored the Heat by three points in the fourth quarter. If Dwyane Wade’s Bulls are better than the Heat, it’s not by much.