MIAMI – Goran Dragic emerged from the shower, looked at the crowd around Dion Waiters, one that spilled over to the front of his locker.
“That’s okay,” Dragic said when he looked at the scrum. “He deserves it.”
Waiters, the Heat’s maligned guard, hit a straight-on 25-foot 3-pointer with .06 seconds remaining to give Miami a stunning 105-102 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Monday, stretching the Heat’s winning streak to a season-high four games.
Waiters finished with 33 points, equaling his career high, which he tied Saturday against Milwaukee.
“I don’t shy away from those type of shots,” Waiters said. “It felt good to see it go in.”
Miami (15-30) upset a Warriors team with the best record in the NBA (38-7), one that leads the league in scoring and entered Monday with seven straight wins, including the last five by at least 17 points, a franchise best streak.
But they ran into a juggernaut, or at least a Heat team now brimming with confidence.
The Heat, which led by 10 in the fourth quarter, allowed the Warriors to tie the score at 102 on a Kevin Durant dunk with 11.7 seconds remaining. That was possible when Dragic missed 1-of-2 free throws (the Heat were 16-of-27 from the line) with 17 seconds to play.
After Durant’s dunk, Miami was out of time outs and Waiters took the ball up the court, worked the clock and let it go a few seconds before the buzzer.
“I liked our disposition during the course of the game,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We didn’t do everything perfect, but our physicality, disposition, efforts were there. That has to be the identity of a team and get better and better at it.”
Dragic finished with 19 points and Hassan Whiteside had 10 points and 15 rebounds.
“Right now we’re just in a zone, we’re playing Heat basketball, especially on the defensive end, we’re making them work,” Waiters said. “You play against Miami, you know it’s not going to be no walk though. That’s what we try to do, be aggressive, be physical, make them beat us. On the offensive end, it’s clicking on all cylinders right now.”
Golden State had three players with at least 21 points, led by Durant’s 27.
Here are our five takeaways.
Waiters on a roll: Waiters is looking more comfortable than he has at any point during his first season with the Heat. After tying his career high of 33 points in Saturday’s win over the Bucks, Waiters repeated that effort Monday against the Warriors and recorded the first buzzer beater of the season for Miami. Waiters finished 13-of-20 from the floor and now is 25-of-39 (.641) in the last two games. He entered the two-game stretch shooting .338 in his previous six games. Waiters hit a crucial 3 with 1:31 to play to give the Heat a 101-96 lead before the game winner. Waiters had 11 points in the fourth quarter.
When Spoelstra was asked to describe Waiters’ performance he said, “The calm. I got to talk to him. Was that just incredible calm. Not necessarily knowing exactly what the situation was but he’s not scared, he’s not afraid. He wants those moments as much as anybody. He’s been pestering me about those kind of deals in the fourth quarter, having the opportunity to make plays.”
Keeping pace: The Heat had no trouble matching the Warriors the entire game. Neither team could put the other away. Miami led by nine in the first quarter, shooting 56 percent in the first nine minutes, before the Warriors went on a 19-4 run. The Warriors took a six-point lead in the third quarter and the Heat outscored Golden State 12-2 to end the quarter. The Heat then pushed the lead but up to 10 with five minutes to play before Golden State rallied to tie the score with 11.7 seconds to play.
“That’s the challenge in this league, how consistently can you get to your identity,” Spoelstra said. “They’re a great team so they are going to make great shots so you have to get on to that next play and win the next play and not let it affect you when they come down and hit two or three 3s in a row, which they’re going to do against anybody. You can’t let that turn into a 20-2 run. I thought our metal stability was strong.”
Hack-a-Hassan: The Warriors tried to get back into the game by playing Hack-a-Hassan. Durant purposely fouled Whiteside, the Heat’s worst free throw shooter, with just more than three minutes to play and it worked. Whiteside, who entered the game shooting .556 from the line, missed both and Stephen Curry immediately hit a 3, cutting Miami’s lead to 98-93, before a Kevin Durant 3 with 1:55 to play made it 98-96 Miami. Whiteside returned with 1:47 remaining.
Okaro White makes his points: This isn’t baseball so the game was not stopped and the ball was not taken out of play for Okaro White to display in his trophy case. Still, the Heat rookie from Florida State recorded his first NBA points with 7:02 remaining in the second quarter when he came flying through the lane and put back a Luke Babbitt three-pointer that rattled around the rim and fell out. White once again saw significant playing time, returning for five minutes in the fourth quarter and contributing a big And-1. He finished with five points and a rebound in nine minutes. This after logging 19 minutes against the Bucks on Saturday.
“Nothing surprises me about this season anymore,” Spoelstra said. “He’s a tough, tough kid. We like his DNA, he’s not afraid of the moment.’
Kerr compliments Heat: Warriors coach Steve Kerr noticed two weeks ago when the two teams played on Oakland how hard Miami was playing. Before the game Kerr said he was not surprised the Heat were able to put together a three-game winning streak to start this home stand.
“It doesn’t surprise me actually,” he said. “I said after our game how much respect I have for the way they play, how hard they play. And I said they’re a better team than their record shows because of the fiber they have. I think they’ve shown that. They’re on a nice stretch winning against good teams. That’s who they are.”