PHILADELPHIA – Not only did the Miami Heat blow a 24-point second half lead Wednesday, but now they have eight days to think about it until their next game.
The Heat dropped a 104-102 decision to the Sixers, their seventh loss in their past eight games. Miami (30-28) heads into the All-Star break eighth in the Eastern Conference, just 1.5 games ahead of No. 9 Detroit.
With the league breaking for All-Star weekend, the Heat are off until Feb. 23 when they play at New Orleans.
The Heat led by 24 points with nine minutes remaining in the third quarter and the Sixers came all the way back, regaining the lead at 92-90 on a Ben Simmons dunk with 5:13 to play.
Philadelphia (30-25) stretched the lead to six points before the Heat cut the deficit. Dwyane Wade missed a corner three in the final minute that would have given the Heat a two-point lead. Miami had one last chance after a Sixers turnover with 3.3 seconds to play, but Wade’s straight-on three hit the front rim and bounced off.
“If I could have paused it in midair, I would have bet all my contracts on it; I would have gone broke,” Wade said. “I thought that was in.”
James Johnson led Miami with 22 points. Goran Dragic added 18.
Ben Simmons led Philadelphia with a triple-double of 18 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. Dario Saric added 19 for the Sixers.
The Heat were outrebounded 60-29.
The Sixers were without leading scorer and All-Star Joel Embiid, who was ruled out minutes before tipoff because of a sore ankle. Embid is scheduled to take part in the Skills Challenge, Rising Stars game and start for Team Stephen Curry this weekend in Los Angeles.
Here are our five takeaways:
Tale of two games: The Heat held a comfortable 24-point lead early in the second half, and midway through the fourth quarter, that lead disappeared. Miami extended its lead by outscoring the Sixers by 14 points in the second quarter before the Sixers got it all back and then some with a 15-point edge in the third quarter, the second consecutive night the Heat were outscored by 15 points in the third quarter. Toronto had a 41-26 advantage on Tuesday and the Sixers won the third on Wednesday 34-19. Miami now has been outscored by 129 points in the third quarter.
“We didn’t deserve it when you get crushed that badly on the glass and all the loose balls,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “When you add up the loose balls and the glass, there was probably 75-29 where they won those categories and this game usually rewards the team to the ball first, and they were.”
Sixers take Heat to boarding school: Even without Embiid, the Sixers dominated the glass. Not only did Philadelphia outrebound Miami by 31, but had a stunning 23-3 edge on the offensive boards. Hassan Whiteside led Miami with 10 rebounds but no one else had more than four.
“They sent all four, there were a lot of long rebounds, but definitely losing by 31 on the boards was tough to overcome,” Wade said. “We had a lead, but when you give up that many rebounds, teams are going to come back. That’s definitely not how we’re going to win. I know this is a good rebounding team, with the bigs we have, but that was the biggest key to them coming back and us losing the game tonight.”
No help from Richardson, Winslow: The Heat have a tough time scoring as it is, but when 40 percent of your starting five is struggling, it’s even more difficult. Josh Richardson had just six points, making just 2-of-5 shots, and has been in a funk recently. Richardson was hard on himself after Tuesday’s loss at Toronto, when he scored 10 points on 3-of-9 shooting. But the biggest issue is Justise Winslow (three points, 0-of-3 from the floor), who has been a huge disappointment and may find himself out of the rotation when the team returns from the break.
Babbitt sighting: Luke Babbitt made his Heat season debut, playing for the first time since being re-acquired last Thursday. Babbitt entered early in the third quarter when Richardson picked up his fourth foul and knocked down a 3 points a little more than a minute later. Babbitt, who likely will settle into a role as a 3-point shooting specialist off the bench, finished with six points, making 2-of-3 threes.
Take a break: With All-Star Weekend coming up, Miami has an eight-day break before resuming the season Feb. 23 in New Orleans. With the exception of Dragic, who will play for Team LeBron in Sunday’s All-Star Game in Los Angeles and Wayne Ellington, who will participate in the 3-point shootout Saturday, the rest of the team will be on a weeklong vacation before its next scheduled practice on Wednesday. The Heat hope to take advantage of the schedule, which has them playing 15 of the final 24 games at home.
“It’s going to be good, every team in the league needs a reset at this time of the season,” Wade said. “Losing seven of our last eight is definitely a good time to reset..”