Five takeaways: Heat surrender 16-point lead, lose again to lowly Nets

Miami Heat’s Hassan Whiteside dunks in front of Brooklyn Nets’ Jarrett Allen and DeMarre Carroll during Friday’s game. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

NEW YORK  – The Miami Heat had the game at a manageable pace and Hassan Whiteside was having another “monster” game.

Then, it all turned.

The Heat squandered a 16-point third-quarter lead to the Brooklyn Nets and dropped a 101-95 decision Friday night at the Barclays Center.

The Heat fell to 26-19 and have lost 2-of-3 after winning seven in a row.

“I think that was really the turning point of the game, because it should have been over,” Whiteside said. “When you’re up 16 against a team in the third quarter, it shouldn’t be no way they come back from that. That’s where we’ve got to do a better job of playing with a lead. It shouldn’t have come down to the fourth quarter, it should have been over. We should have just kept building on that, up by 16.”

Miami tied the score at 91 on consecutive baskets by Goran Dragic and James Johnson, but the Nets scored the next six points to seal the win.

Coach Erik Spoelstra was not happy with Miami’s defense in the second half, when the Nets scored 58 points and shot 52.6 percent.

“We pride ourselves on our defense, and it took us forever in that fourth quarter, start of the fourth, before we got a stop,” Spoelstra said. “It was a timeout and several possessions before we settled in and dug in and got a couple in a row. That’s not a winning formula for us.”

Whiteside led Miami with 22 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots, his second consecutive impressive performance.

Brooklyn’s DeMarre Carroll led all scorers with 26 points.

The Nets, who entered having lost five consecutive home games, welcomed back guard D’Angelo Russell, who returned after missing 32 games because of a left knee injury. Russell looked rusty, missing all five of his shots and scoring just two points.

The Heat were without Tyler Johnson, who missed his second game since spraining his left ankle.

Here are our five takeaways:

The turning point: The game turned in the final nine minutes of the third quarter, when the Heat were outscored 19-5 and entered the fourth quarter with two-point lead. The Heat built a 64-48 lead on a Dragic jumper before missing 16 of their next 17 shots, including their last 12 in the quarter. The Nets (17-29) took their first lead since 12-11 on a Caris LeVert three to make it 79-77 with 8:56 to play.

“You have to credit them,” Spoelstra said. “They stepped up their pressure, got us a little bit out of rhythm there at the end of the third and they had a tremendous fourth quarter.”

Whiteside coming alive: Spoelstra challenged Whiteside after his center’s “monster” game in Milwaukee on Wednesday. “He knows what I’m going to say,” Spoelstra said following the game. “I’m going to say, ‘Hey, great job, Big Fella. Do it again on Friday.’ ” Well, he did. Whiteside put together consecutive games of at least 20 points for the first time this season after scoring a season-high 27 against the Bucks. Whiteside was energized from the start Friday, with 11 points, eight rebounds and a block in the first quarter. His most impressive basket was a spin move and dunk in the second quarter that left the Nets interior defenders grasping for air.

“I was just rolling and the team was hitting me in the right spots,” Whiteside said.  “When they come double me, I had to kick it back out, to try to find them guys and swing it around and try to get the best shot.”

Slowing the pace early: The last time these teams met, the Nets ran the Heat off the AmericanAirlines Arena court, 111-87. At one point in that game, the Heat trailed by 38 points, their largest deficit of the season. Spoelstra mentioned that pace, which is the fifth-fastest in the NBA, several times Friday. But this game was played a bit more to the Heat’s liking for about a half before Brooklyn went small and turned it on, scoring 53 points in the final 21 minutes.

“They went to a small lineup and we struggle when they go small, when they put a shooter at the five or a spacer,” Dragic said. “That was our kryptonite. We’ll try to get better. We were close but not close enough.”

Richardson suddenly struggling: Josh Richardson was the Heat’s best player for about a six-week stretch, but the third-year forward had another rough game, his third in a row. Richardson closed with 12 points on 4-of-12 shooting. He entered the game averaging 12.5 points in his past two games, but was just 10-of-26 from the floor.

No rest for the weary: The Heat’s road trip continues in Charlotte on Saturday, their eighth back-to-back of the season and second this week, capping the only week the entire season in which Miami plays five games. The Heat started with Milwaukee at home on Sunday, followed by games at Chicago (Monday), at Milwaukee (Wednesday) before Brooklyn and Charlotte. Miami is 3-4 on the second night of back-to-backs this season.

[Erik Spoelstra happy to see Hornets’ Steve Clifford back on bench]

[Heat’s Wayne Ellington showing he’s much more than a 3-point threat]

[Erik Spoelstra’s presence at ceremony to honor Hassan Whiteside ‘meant a lot]

[Heat mailbag: Where does Rodney McGruder fit in when he returns? That and trade stuff]

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