Miami finishes strong to beat Wolves
MIAMI - Reuters / The Associated Press
AFP photoThe Miami Heat overcame a 28-point rebounding differential to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 103-92 on Dec. 18 with Dwyane Wade top scoring with 24 points.
The Timberwolves slaughtered Miami 52-24 on the boards, with Kevin Love winning 18 of the rebounds and Montenegrin Nikola Pekovic 12.
But the Heat shrugged off the disadvantage as they dominated the turnover count, and were never threatened after pulling away in the second half.
“I don’t know how many times I’ve seen that, when you get doubled up on the rebounding and you still win,” Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters. “We’ll take it.”
LeBron James had 22 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds in his 42 minutes on court to notch his 27th consecutive regular season game with at least 20 points.
The visitors led 27-21 at the end of the first quarter, having dominated the rebounds 18-3 in the opening 12 minutes.
Miami recovered to lead 52-49 at the half. The Heat took control after the break and overhauled the largest rebounding deficit in their history.
“They were absolutely annihilating us on the glass,” said Spoelstra. “In the second half it felt we did a better job but they still had opportunities with second chance points. The only thing we could do at that point was put bodies on them and tip the ball away to somebody else.”
The Heat forced 20 turnovers for a second consecutive game, yielding 25 points, and made 14 blocked shots and 12 steals.
“You have to make up for [the rebounding] somewhere else,” said Miami’s Shane Battier. “It’s not a way we would want to rest ourselves every night but if you play hard in other areas of the game, force turnovers and are efficient on the offensive end, you can mitigate that a little bit.”
Chris Bosh said the Heat had shown their quality in overcoming their rebounding weakness, a problem throughout the season.
“We’re a good team. Good teams always find a way to win. We have to find a way to rebound collectively as a unit. Once we start doing that we give ourselves a better chance to win,” he said.
“When we get to that point we can really start to squeeze the life out of teams slowly but surely.”
Elsewhere, San Antonio’s worrying form dip continued with a 112-106 loss to the Denver Nuggets in which the Spurs threatened a comeback from a big deficit yet could not sink the vital shots in the final seconds.
San Antonio suffered its fourth loss in five games and dropped to second in the Southwest Division behind idle Memphis.
Denver’s Danilo Gallinari had a season-high 28 points as the Nuggets opened a 98-83 lead, only for San Antonio to finish strongly.
Tim Duncan had 31 points - also a season high - to go along with 18 rebounds for the Spurs, who closed to 105-102 and were still a chance at 110-106 with 53 seconds left. A turnover by Denver gave the Spurs a chance to get closer but they missed three straight 3-pointers in the final 24 seconds.
Utah Jazz made a big comeback then held on despite late errors, winning 92-90 at the Brooklyn Nets, with Mo Williams scoring 19 points and Al Jefferson adding 16 points and 11 rebounds.
The Chicago Bulls surged in the fourth quarter to see off the Boston Celtics 100-89, with Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer scoring 21 points apiece.
Chicago center Joakim Noah had his second career triple-double with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists.
The Milwaukee Bucks held on in a tight finish to edge the Indiana Pacers 98-93.
Golden State Warriors brought their impressive road form back home, beating the struggling New Orleans Hornets 103-96.
The Los Angeles Lakers overcame an 18-point third-quarter deficit to overrun Charlotte 101-100, handing the Bobcats their 12th straight loss.
Kobe Bryant scored 30 points, while Jodie Meeks and Metta World Peace each had 17 points for the Lakers, who won their third straight. Kemba Walker led Charlotte with 28 points.