Five takeaways: Miami Heat rally to force overtime, but fall 117-113 to Washington Wizards

Tyler Johnson #8 of the Miami Heat dribbles past Tomas Satoransky #31 of the Washington Wizards during the first half at Capital One Arena on March 6, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — The Heat battled back from an 18-point first-quarter deficit. The Heat dug themselves out of a 10-point third-quarter hole. The Heat even rallied from a five-point deficit with less than two minutes to play.

But in the end, Miami didn’t have enough on the second night of a back-to-back set.

After the Heat (34-31) found a way to overcome all of that to force overtime, the Washington Wizards (37-28) found a way to hang on for a 117-113 win on Tuesday at Capital One Arena.

“We weren’t able to capitalize, but there were a lot of other things and our guys really competed,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “There’s plenty of opportunities to make plays and unfortunately that’s the way it works in this league. There’s a winner and there’s a team on the other side. But we just have to gather ourselves. I know everybody is disappointed in that locker room.”

Plenty of Eastern Conference playoff implications were attached to the game, as Miami entered in seventh and Washington entered in fifth. After the loss, Miami dropped to eighth place and one-half game behind No. 7 Milwaukee.

Trailing 115-113 in overtime, the Heat had a chance to tie the game but Dwyane Wade missed a one-foot floater with 4.1 seconds remaining and Kelly Olynyk missed the putback layup with 1.8 seconds remaining to seal Miami’s fate.

“We had two really good looks at it,” Spoelstra said. “Dwyane had a point-blank opportunity. [Markieff] Morris was pursuing, so he took a body off K.O. I though Dwyane’s was going in, even though it was a high floater, it looked like it was dropping. I mean, it was straight on, missed, and I though K.O. had a real clean look to potentially get an offensive rebound on it.”

Washington used a big night from 3-point range, making 14 of its 24 shots from beyond the arc. Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 30 points and six made 3-pointers.

Five players scored in double-digits for the Heat, with Wade scoring a team-high 22 on 8-of-18 shooting.

The Heat played without Wayne Ellington (left quad contusion), who missed his fourth consecutive game with the injury.

Here are our five takeaways …

The power of three: The Heat usually do a pretty good job of defending the 3-point shot, as they entered Tuesday ranked 10th in opponent 3-point shooting percentage this season at 35.8. But Miami didn’t have an answer for Washington’s hot shooting. The Wizards made 14 of their 24 3-pointers, compared to the Heat’s 9-of-33 night from beyond the arc. Beal was Washington’s leading man, making 6-of-7 from 3-point range. Washington outscored Miami 42-27 on threes, and that was enough to push the Wizards to the win.

Tyler Johnson is back: It didn’t take long for Tyler Johnson to return to his attacking style after coming back from a left quad contusion. In his first game back from the injury, Johnson was just looking to find his rhythm with five points on 2-of-8 shooting in 18 minutes on Monday against the Suns. But the 25-year-old looked like his normal self against the Wizards. He finished with 21 points, three rebounds and four assists in his second game back. The most encouraging part of Tuesday’s performance is that he made each of his six shots in the paint. Johnson struggled to play his attacking style after returning from a sprained left ankle in January. But there doesn’t seem to be any lingering effects from his most recent injury.

“I thought in the fourth quarter of the Phoenix game I started to feel back to being myself,” Johnson said. “It was kind of a lopsided game so it was a little bit different, but at the same time, I didn’t feel it when I was running and jumping and I wasn’t thinking about it today going in. As long as I’m not thinking about it, I’m kind of over it.”

Starting lineup change coming for Heat?: Spoelstra turned to the same starting lineup for the third consecutive game on Tuesday — Goran Dragic, Josh Richardson, Luke Babbitt, James Johnson and Hassan Whiteside. The results haven’t been great, as this five-man group has been outscored by 19 points in 25 minutes over those three games. Take out Monday’s blowout win over the Suns, when this lineup outscored Phoenix by six points, and the plus-minus number would be even worse. Now that Tyler Johnson has played two games off the bench since returning from a left quad contusion, it could be time to put him back in the starting lineup. Whether that change comes or not is still to be determined. But Spoelstra gave a hint of what could come next, with Tyler Johnson starting the second half in place of Babbitt in Washington.

“It was great to see him out there, being aggressive and playing with confidence,” Spoelstra said of Tyler Johnson. “He certainly played at least 20 more minutes than I anticipated playing him. We didn’t know how he would feel coming on the back-to-back. We didn’t feel we had time to wait. It was not, at all, an indictment on Luke. We didn’t have time to wait at the start of that third quarter.”

A closer look at Whiteside during this back-to-back: Just one night after finishing with a shining stat line of 24 points, 14 rebounds, two assists, two steals and three blocks in Monday’s win over the Suns, center Hassan Whiteside followed it up with eight points and six rebounds in 21 minutes against the Wizards. The 7-footer struggled to start the game with two points on 1-of-5 shooting and two rebounds in the first half. But he showed signs of life in the third quarter with six points and four rebounds. This type of inconsistency within games has become a trend for Whiteside. The Heat need him to be at his best on most nights, and he wasn’t in Washington just hours after one of his best performances of the season.

Standings watch: The loss dropped the Heat to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The good news is that Miami is still 4.5 games ahead of ninth-place Detroit. The bad news is that Miami is now three games behind fifth-place Washington. Tuesday’s contest marked the start of an important three-game stretch for the Heat. After the loss in Washington, Miami hosts No. 6 Philadelphia on Thursday before another meeting with the Wizards on Saturday to complete a quick two-game homestand. Where will the Heat finish in the Eastern Conference playoff race? This three-game stretch won’t provide the final answer to this question, but it will definitely play an important role in determining Miami’s fate.

“Very competitive, no doubt,” Spoesltra said of the jumbled East standings. “So we’ll have another opportunity with these guys [Wizards] back in Miami in a few days, but we have another big one [against 76ers] before that. So we can’t even think about that. But there’s so many evenly matched teams and that’s why some of these, a lot of these games are going down to the end.”

[Wayne Ellington not ready to return yet, will miss fourth consecutive game with left quad contusion]

[Luke Babbitt back in old role for Heat, which means flashing green light to launch threes]

[Dwyane Wade on Kobe Bryant’s Oscar victory: ‘He has set a bar for success when you get done playing’]

[Adebayo on Heat allowing him to miss win vs. Pistons to attend great-grandmother’s funeral: ‘It shows it’s not just an organization here, it’s a family’]

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