MIAMI — A 2-3 start was enough for the Heat to call for a team meeting Sunday.
But the team meeting wasn’t enough to help Miami avoid a three-game losing streak. The Heat (2-4) fell to the Timberwolves 125-122 in overtime Monday at AmericanAirlines Arena.
After Dion Waiters poured in a team-high 14 points in the fourth quarter to bring Miami back from a seven-point deficit in the final period, the Timberwolves (4-3) outscored the Heat 15-12 in overtime on their way to the victory.
Miami was sloppy all night, finishing with 24 turnovers. Minnesota scored 31 points on the Heat’s errors.
“We’re going to be fine. It’s early,” Waiters said. “These are the games right here that we figured out how to win last year. I think coming out of overtime we were just a little flat and we had to climb our way back. … It’s hard to win in this league so you can’t give teams like that, with a lot of talent, opportunities. I think we got to do a better job taking care of the ball.”
With Waiters’ fourth-quarter surge, he finished with a team-high 33 points on 14-of-28 shooting. His backcourt mate Goran Dragic recorded 18 points, six rebounds and five assists.
Timberwolves point guard Jeff Teague finished with 23 points and 11 assists. Teague’s three 3-pointers were part of Minnesota’s impressive 11-of-23 display from long range.
The Heat led by as much as 13 points in the first half, but that didn’t last. Miami was without center Hassan Whiteside, who missed miss his fifth consecutive game with a bone bruise in his left knee.
Even in a loss, there were some positives for the Heat. Miami outscored Minnesota 66-54 in the paint and 23-14 in second-chance points.
“Our activity was much better,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “You could feel it. You could feel our presence defensively. I wish I could tell the team that this league is fair. It’s not. Nothing is guaranteed. We had a couple of great days. It would have been a perfect stamp to come away with a win, but it just didn’t turn out that way.”
The Heat’s season-long six-game homestand comes to an end Wednesday against the Bulls. Miami is now 2-3 during this long stretch at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Here are our five takeaways …
No turnover chain for the Heat: Turnovers were a killer for the Heat on Monday. Miami committed 24 turnovers and forced Minnesota into just 16. After a first quarter that included just two Heat turnovers, Miami committed 22 the rest of the way. That included four turnovers in overtime. Miami has now finished with 19 or more turnovers in three of their past four games. That’s not an encouraging trend.
“It’s now been three games where the possession game has just really, really hurt us,” Spoelstra said. “This just looked like it was going to be set up to be a great game down the stretch. It’s tough to give up that many in the turnover game, but also on the free-throw line.”
Dion bounces back: What a difference two days can make. After sitting out the entire fourth quarter in Saturday’s loss to the Celtics, Waiters was the Heat’s best player in the final period Monday. Waiters recorded 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the fourth quarter. He used that momentum to score seven of the Heat’s 12 points in overtime. It wasn’t enough, though, with Minnesota earning the overtime win. But Waiters’ performance should help quiet some of the questions about his lingering left ankle, at least for a few days.
“He’s really been working at it behind the scenes. We’ve seen progress with his treatment, rehab, everything,” Spoelstra said of Waiters. “We saw him making a lot of strides to get better and he was already starting to feel better a week ago. He was able to be aggressive tonight. His first step was definitely there. It’s great to see and now as we move forward, we need to have everybody on top of their game and to contribute on the same night. That’s what we are looking for, consistency.”
Heat bench gets hot: Miami’s bench got its job done against Minnesota, combining for 51 points. That was enough to outscore the Timberwolves’ reserves, which combined for 37 points. Kelly Olynyk led the charge for the Heat’s bench with 23 points and six rebounds. Miami’s bench entered Monday ranked 14th in the league in points per game (33.6) and 20th in shooting percentage (41.6).
The dunk master: We’ve learned one thing about Bam Adebayo early in his rookie season. The 20-year-old knows how to dunk the ball. He finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds to record his first career double-double. Each of his five field goals came on dunks. That’s not surprising considering each of his nine field goals this season have come on dunks. This three-game stint as the Heat’s starting center with Whiteside out has been a learning experience for Adebayo, and Monday provided a glimpse at what his role can be this season.
“I fell like my mind is starting to slow down,” Adebayo said after turning in his best stat line of the young season. “I’m not going too fast, I’m starting to pace myself. Coach is allowing me to get all these minutes. I thank him for it because he believes in me just like I believe in me and my team.”
Karl-Anthony Towns shines: Adebayo started on Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns, and then forwards James Johnson and Okaro White later got their chance to defend him. Not much worked against the rising star, as Towns played through an illness to finish with 20 points and 12 rebounds. The Heat shouldn’t feel bad, though. Other teams haven’t been able to stop Towns either. The 21-year-old Kentucky product entered Monday averaging 24.8 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks this year. It would have been fun to watch a healthy Whiteside go up against Towns, but everybody will have to wait until Nov. 24 when the Heat travel to Minnesota to face the Timberwolves for the second and final time this season.