No matter how you try and spin, the Miami Heat look like an inferior bunch to the one from last season. Following their 122-121 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves which slightly falls on the shoulders of Mario Chalmers and his free throw misses they’re still leading the Eastern conference, but mostly because their rivals for that spot are in an even bigger slump.
Kevin Love finished with 28 points and 11 rebounds, leading the Timberwolves to an unlikely win that won’t be enough to get them into the playoffs, but is one of those feel good moments in a bittersweet kind of season. Love twice had the chance to win the game – at the end of regulation and overtime, but both of his three point shots, contested by Chris Bosh, were just off the mark.
The Heat won’t blame Mario Chalmers, who scored 24 points, but it was his free throw misses in both the end of regulation and the first overtime that might have cost them the win. A 74.2% shooter from the line this season, Chalmers went to the line with 3.9 seconds left in the fourth and the Heat down by one. He made one of two, and Love missed a three pointer to send the game into overtime. End of the first overtime? Same thing. Heat down by one, Chalmers to the line, 1-of-2. Love misses a 3-pointer. Chalmers finished with 8-of-10 at the line; you do the math.
With the game tied at 121-121, Corey Brewer made one of two, which was enough for the Timberwolves to lead with less than two seconds left on the clock. The Heat went to Ray Allen and not LeBron James who was probably in a better position, and Allen, not on the best of shooting games, wasn’t really close to making it.
James finished with 34 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals. Chris Bosh scored 24 points, just like Chalmers, but the Heat got almost nothing from their bench unit, and once again looked very bad with Norris Cole on the floor, who finished with 0 points on o-of-5 from the field, also making that slightly foolish foul on Corey Brewer at the end of the second overtime. Miami have had a problem with their second unit all season long, and heading into the playoffs, that’s another thing for them to worry about, besides Dwyane Wade not looking very healthy when he is on the sidelines in a suit.
Chase Budinger was the ace for the Timberwolves off the bench with 24 points including five 3-pointers. Gorgui Dieng continues to do a very good job in place of Nikola Pekovic, scoring 15 points while Ricky Rubio had a very good game with 13 points, 5-of-9 from the field and 14 assists. The Timberwolves aren’t a very good road team, but the Heat’s current status, especially on defense, makes them look like easy prey sometimes.
You just want to see the players decide it at the end. I didn’t get a good look at the replay. Still, we had many more opportunities to close that game out. We had our chances. Either a key stop, one less turnover, a free throw here or there, we had our opportunities. They made one last play.