Miami Heat close season with win but get eliminated from 2017 NBA playoff contention

By The Sports Xchange
Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra reacts to his team's play. File photo by Tannen Maury/EPA
Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra reacts to his team's play. File photo by Tannen Maury/EPA

MIAMI -- After three unsuccessful attempts, the Miami Heat finally reached .500, but the achievement wasn't sufficient to extend their season.

Goran Dragic scored 28 points, yet the Heat fell short of reaching the playoffs after a 110-102 victory over the Washington Wizards?on Wednesday night.


Miami (41-41) became the first team in league history to finish .500 or above after being at least 12 games below .500. The Heat reversed an 11-30 record the first half of the season with a 30-11 finish in the second half.

"We never gave up," Dragic said. "We continued to fight. It's not easy to come back from 11-30 and make it 41-41."

To qualify for the postseason, Miami needed to win and have either Indiana or Chicago lose in the regular-season finale. Both teams won, leaving the Heat on the outside looking in.


"We believed in magic; we believed in karma," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We believed in those things you can't define. We just felt we had the momentum.

"None of us are handling it very well right now."

The Heat increased a six-point lead at halftime with an 8-0 run to start the second half. Hassan Whiteside's 3-point play and Josh Richardson's 3-pointer keyed the spurt that increased Miami's lead to 64-50.

Whiteside finished with 24 points and 18 rebounds. Richardson scored 15 points and Willie Reed finished with 16 points for Miami, which took the lead for good after a 21-9 surge midway through the second quarter.

James Johnson scored 12 points and finished with eight rebounds and eight assists as Miami swept the four regular-season games against the Southeast Division champion Wizards.

"We were kind of determined in that locker room and we fought back," Reed said of the turnaround. "It was more than winning those games. It was the brotherhood built along the way."

Playoff-bound Washington (49-33) played without John Wall and Bradley Beal. Wizards coach Scott Brooks rested the starting guards as Washington prepares for its first-round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks.


Forward Otto Porter Jr., who was inactive in the Wizards' last two games, scored 11 points in 15 minutes against Miami.

"We just wanted to give him a few minutes," Brooks said. "I thought that overall he was good tonight. We need healthy bodies."

Trey Burke scored 27 points and Marcin Gortat finished with 16 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the field for the Wizards. Gortat played 82 regular season games for the second time in his career.

Rookie guard Sheldon McClellan, recalled from the NBA D-League Rio Grande Valley Vipers on Tuesday, scored 18 points.

Burke, who shot 10-of-13 from the field, including 5-of-7 3-pointers, played a season high 31 minutes. Prior to an eight-minute stint Monday against Detroit, Burke sat out 17 of the Wizards' previous 18 games.

"Sometimes you go through tests and it's not about the test, it's how you handle it," Burke said of his limited playing time. "For me, obviously, I wanted to be out there these last 10-15 games. Like coach said, you've got to always stay ready in this league. You never know when your number is called."

NOTES: The Wizards won the season series 3-1 with the Hawks. The teams' most recent playoff history was in the 2015 Eastern Conference semifinals, when the Hawks won in six games. ... Washington has not won 50 regular-season games since the 1978-79 season. ... Hassan Whiteside finished with a Heat season-record 66 double-doubles and 1,088 rebounds. ... Heat F Udonis Haslem, inactive since Feb. 4, entered the game late in the fourth quarter. Haslem, 36, is Miami's lone holdover from the team's three championship teams and appeared in 17 games this season.


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