Relive the Miami Heat’s 13-game win streak: Top 5 moments

Dion Waiters, 'oozing with confidence,' poses after his game-winner against Golden State on Tuesday. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/TNS)

Dion Waiters, ‘oozing with confidence,’ poses after his game-winner against Golden State on Tuesday. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/TNS)

A 13-game winning streak doesn’t come around often. And it definitely doesn’t come around often for a losing team.

In fact, the Heat’s 13-game winning streak was historic. It was the third longest in team history, the longest in the NBA this season and set the all-time league record for the longest winning streak for a team still holding a losing record.

When the streak began on Jan. 17 , the Heat owned the second-worst record in the NBA. When it ended with a loss to the 76ers on Saturday night, the Heat found themselves just 1.5 games out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference occupied by the Detroit Pistons.

The string of wins included victories over three winning teams — Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks. It also included plenty of memorable moments.

Here are five moments that stand out from the long winning streak …

1. The game-winner: Most thought the winning streak would end at three games when the Golden State Warriors came to town. But the Heat shocked the NBA world by defeating the NBA’s best team (record-wise) 105-102 on Jan. 23 to make it four consecutive wins. What was the difference that put Miami over the top? Dion Waiters’ dramatic game-winning 3-pointer with 0.6 seconds remaining to break a 102-102 tie and keep the Heat’s winning streak alive. With Klay Thompson defending him, Waiters used a crossover to create space and get the game-winner off. The win was a huge surprise, as the Warriors entered the game with an NBA-best 38-6 record and the Heat entered with a 14-30 record.

Waiters was impressive during the streak, averaging 21 points on 50 percent shooting to go with four rebounds and five assists. He even earned the Eastern Conference Player of the Week award for the first time in his career.

2. Huge fourth quarter comeback: Unlike the victory over Golden State, this win didn’t come against the best team in the NBA. It actually came against the worst team in the NBA. But somehow it was almost just as dramatic. Trailing by 18 points to start the fourth quarter, the Heat rallied with a dominant fourth quarter to beat the Nets 109-106 in Brooklyn to record their fifth consecutive win on Jan. 25. Miami outscored Brooklyn 38-17 in the final period to earn the comeback victory and keep its winning streak alive. Waiters led the Heat with 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting in the fourth quarter. And Okaro White, playing on a 10-day contract at the time, made a big contribution with five points, three rebounds and two blocks in the final period.

3. Beating Dwyane Wade: The Heat played the Chicago Bulls at an interesting time. The Heat entered their matchup against the Bulls in Chicago on Jan. 27 on a five-game winning streak. Meanwhile, the Bulls benched Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler for the start of the game after they tore into their younger teammates questioning their desire, professionalism and on-court decisions earlier that week. If that wasn’t embarrassing enough for Wade, his former team left Chicago with a 100-88 win over the Bulls to extend its winning streak to six games. Wade was inefficient, finishing with 15 points on 6-of-17 shooting.

“We’ve been playing good basketball,” Wade said, comparing the Bulls’ recent play to the Heat during Miami’s winning streak. “We’re not playing Miami Heat basketball where they’ve won 11 straight, but we’re playing good basketball.”

4. Hassan Whiteside turns in historic performance: One of the storylines over the first half of the streak was Hassan Whiteside’s underwhelming stat lines. The Heat’s $98 million center averaged 12.4 points and 11.6 rebounds over the first nine games of the streak. But the 10th game was among the best performances of the 27-year-old’s career. Whiteside finished with 30 points and 20 rebounds in just 26 minutes and 47 seconds in Miami’s 125-102 win over Philadelphia on Feb. 4. It marked the first 30-point, 20-rebound game of his NBA career. And Whiteside’s 30-20 game was the quickest in terms of minutes played in NBA history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. It’s just the ninth time a Heat player has ever finished with at least 30 points and 20 rebounds in a game — including the playoffs — in franchise history, and it’s the first such performance since Shaquille O’Neal finished with 30 points and 20 rebounds during the 2006 playoffs against the Chicago Bulls.

“When he dominates like that, it makes everything else easier for us,” Wayne Ellington said of Whiteside. “Obviously that’s what he’s capable of and that’s the way we need him to dominate the game and dominate the paint. When he gets going like that early, we’ll be a tough team to beat, for sure.”

5. James Johnson will not back down: Don’t mess with James Johnson, a second-degree black belt who is undefeated in 27 MMA and kickboxing matches. Atlanta’s Taurean Prince learned that the hard way in the Heat’s 116-93 win over the Hawks on Feb. 1 — Miami’s ninth win in a row. With 5:53 remaining in the game, Prince tossed Whiteside to the ground when the 7-foot center was attempting to go up with a shot after grabbing an offensive rebound. Whiteside landed hard on his back and his head snapped back from the force, leading Johnson to run straight into the face of Prince in defense of his teammate. Johnson and Prince were ejected. The scuffle seems to inspire Whiteside, who remained in the game and scored seven points and grabbed one rebound before coming out just more than two minutes later. The incident ended up costing a lot of money, as Johnson was fined $32,000 for his role in the scuffle. But Whiteside said he would take care of Johnson’s fines as a sign of appreciation.

“I think I’m just wired like that,” said Johnson, who has turned into the Heat’s enforcer this season. “Honestly, I don’t think I can beat everybody in the world up. But I’ll take my chances in that situation.”

[Five takeaways from the Heat’s 117-109 loss at the 76ers]

[Heat guard Dion Waiters says he will return Monday against Orlando]

[‘King’ James Johnson has a nice ring to it as Heat forward continues to show versatility]

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