DALLAS – The Miami Heat were feeling pretty good after overcoming a nine-point deficit at the start the fourth quarter.
The Heat had knocked down three consecutive 3s and forged a five point lead with about 4 ½ minutes remaining.
But Miami forget to finish the game.
The Heat went scoreless for the final 4 1/2 minutes as the Dallas Mavericks ended the game on a 12-0 run in a 96-89 victory over Miami Monday at American Airlines Center. The loss was the Heat’s third in their last 19 games, all coming to teams with losing records.
After trailing 78-69 entering the fourth quarter, Miami made it a game with consecutive 3s by Dion Waiters, Wayne Ellington and Goran Dragic that turned an 84-80 deficit into an 89-84 advantage.
But Dragic’s 3 was Heat’s final points of the game as the Heat missed seven shots and had two turnovers in their final nine possessions.
“We crawled and scratched and clawed to get that five point lead and we just didn’t get clean looks after that,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We’ve shown so much poise going down the stretch than we did tonight.”
Dragic led the Heat (27-33) with 24 points. Hassan Whiteside had 19 points and 19 rebounds. The Heat were held to under 100 points for the first time since a 99-95 victory over Dallas on Jan.19.
Seth Curry led Dallas (24-35) with 29 points.
“We have a guy the league missed on,” Spoelstra said referring to Whiteside. “The league has missed on Seth Curry, he’s a heck of a basketball player.”
Our five takeaways from the loss.
Script flipped: The Heat dictated the action in the first quarter, jumping out to a 31-7 lead early and shooting 65 percent in the first 12 minutes. But the Mavericks made an adjustment, going to a zone a defense that really changed the complexion of the game and helped the Mavs take their first lead late in the second quarter while on a 33-15 run. Miami shot 38 percent (24-of-63) the final three quarters and after an 18-6 advantage in the paint in the first quarter, Dallas flipped that with a 14-6 advantage in the second quarter. Miami ended the game with a four-point advantage in the paint.
“It was more like a pick-up game and we didn’t use our main key, and that’s trying to be more hungry and play good defense,” Dragic said. “They were more physical than we were.”
Wasted opportunity: The Heat had a chance to pull within a half game of the final playoff spot in the East and put a little distance between themselves and No. 10 Milwaukee, which lost to Cleveland. Instead, Miami falls 1.5 games behind No. 8 seed Detroit and remains just percentage points ahead of the Bucks. The Heat have a chance to gain some ground with their next two games against Philadelphia and Orlando, two of the three worst teams in the East.
“It will be good to get back home and get back to playing offense the way we know,” Whiteside said.
Center rotation: Willie Reed missed his first game since being diagnosed with bursitis in his right ankle and Spoelstra opted to use a two-man rotation at the position with Whiteside and James Johnson, while keeping Udonis Haslem on the bench. Whiteside started hot with nine points and six rebounds in the first quarter, including three dunks and finished with his 38th double-double of the season while playing 38:18. The Heat are now 1-8 with Reed not available.
Free throw woes are back: While the Heat continue to rank last in the NBA with a .696 free throw percentage entering the game, they had improved during their recent run, shooting .770 over their last 14 games entering Monday and .813 over their last six. But the Heat’s troubles at the line returned Monday, making just 6-of-13, including Dragic and Dion Waiters, who combined to go 4-of-10 for the game. The Mavericks, meanwhile, took advantage of their free throws, making 21-of-23.
Coach of the month: Spoelstra has made a strong case for the Eastern Conference coach of the month. The Heat finish the month 8-3, one game behind the Cavaliers (9-2) for the best record in the conference. The Celtics finish 8-4 and the Wizards are 6-3 with a game remaining Tuesday against the Warriors. Each of those three teams solidly are in the playoffs and loaded with talent. The Heat have overcome injuries and a slow start to climb back into the playoff race by winning 16-of-19. For that reason Spoelstra should get the nod over Cleveland’s Tyronn Lue, Boston’s Brad Stevens and Washington’s Scott Brooks and take home his seventh coach of the month award and first since February 2014.