MIAMI – This is what we can expect for the rest of the season from teams battling for playoff positioning.
The Heat and Nuggets put on an entertaining show for the AmericanAirlines Arena crowd Monday, even giving them an extra 10 minutes of action before the Heat pulled out a 149-141 victory in double overtime, marking the highest scoring game in franchise history.
The game had so much offense that it broke the stats monitor, literally, which makes all the stats unofficial.
The Heat (38-33) have won 7-of-8 at home and move back into seventh place in the East. Miami was 10 of 12 from the floor in the two overtime periods.
The Heat had chances to win the game at the end of regulation and the first overtime. Josh Richardson missed a short baseline shot sending the game into overtime and James Johnson missed a short bank shot leading to the second overtime. Johnson, though, atoned for that miss with 10 points in the second overtime giving him 18 in the two overtime periods and a career-high 31 for the game.
Wayne Ellington was asked what it was like to play in a game like this.
“It’s fun,” said Ellington. “We didn’t exactly want it to be like this. But these are the types of games that show your character, get us ready for the post season. I’m sure it will come in handy having a game like this.”
Johnson added 11 rebounds. Kelly Olynyk scored 30 points on 11-of-16 shooting. Ellington added 23.
Nikola Jokic led Denver (38-33) with 34 points.
The Heat were without Hassan Whiteside (hip) for the fifth consecutive game and Dwyane Wade (hamstring) for the fourth game in a row.
Here are our five takeaways:
The James Johnson show: The game was entertaining right down to the end. After having two chances to end the game, one in regulation and one at the end of the first overtime, the Heat then relied on Johnson to pull out the most entertaining game of the season. Johnson scored 18 of the Heat’s 31 points in the two overtimes, including 10 in the second overtime. He had scored more than 18 once in the last 12 games. Johnson was 13 of 17 from the field and his overtime points were a Heat record.
“I mean, what can you say?,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Our captain was so inspiring tonight. He was guarding both their bigs. And then he just erupted at the end, the threes, the drive, the dunk. It was challenging to score end of games and overtimes, especially when they started to adjust everything. And J.J. was just able to create opportunity out of seemingly nothing, or when we got stuck. And that’s what great leaders do for you.”
Good offense or poor defense? Or maybe a little of both.When the first half ended with the Heat leading 64-63 and both teams playing at a breakneck pace one had to expect the offenses would slow down at some point in the second half. Didn’t happen. Both teams shot better than 50 percent from the floor and on threes in the first half.
“Good offense beats good defense every time,” Olynyk said. “That’s the thing. But you’ve got to be able to buckle down and make some stops when it matters. It took up to 58 minutes to do that but eventually we got it done.”
Olynyk provides a spark: Kelly Olynyk was active early Monday, bringing energy and his offense and he never slowed down. Olynyk filled the stat line 30 points, seven rebounds, four assists, four steals and a career high four blocks. He had the second 30-point game off the bench in Heat history, behind Tyler Johnson’s 32 last season.
“Kelly is a unique player,” Goran Dragic said. “He can do a lot of stuff. He’s got that unorthodox game a little bit. But he can pass, he can shoot, he can put the ball on the floor. I don’t know how he takes a shot, every time he drives he kind of stops. That’s a unique skill to have. It’s not easy.”
Three-point clinic: This game ultimately came down to who could be stopped from the three point line. The Nuggets finished 18 of 38 from threes and the Heat were 20 of 36. Miami’s total was one shy of the franchise record set last season against Charlotte. The Heat had four threes in the overtime periods, three from James Johnson.
Still room to climb: The Heat moved into sole possession of seventh place with their win and the Bucks loss at Cleveland and now have set their sights on climbing higher in the standings. The Sixers held onto the sixth spot with a victory over the Hornets, two games ahead of the Heat. Miami is 2.5 games behind No. 5 Washington and three games behind No. 4 Indiana. The Heat have 11 games remaining, seven at home and six against teams with losing records.