Whiteside powers streaking Heat past ‘Wolves

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LOS ANGELES: Hassan Whiteside delivered his 11th straight double-double as the Miami Heat continued their hot streak with a wire-to-wire 123-105 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday (Saturday in Manila).

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Miami has made a stunning turnaround from the team that struggled to an 11-30 to start the season as they have won 23 of their last 28 games for the best record in the NBA over that stretch.

The Heat like Whiteside’s offence but coach Erik Spoelstra said he was also a force on defense.

“It felt like (Whiteside) had seven or eight blocks,” Spoelstra said. “And that’s the most important thing—that they feel his size, that they feel his presence, that they feel his impact at the rim and in the paint.”

Hassan Whiteside AFP PHOTO

Whiteside finished with 23 points and 14 rebounds as his 11th consecutive double-double tied a Heat franchise record, set by Rony Seikaly in 1991-92.

Tyler Johnson scored 23 off the bench for Miami who are also 15-1 in their last 16 games at home.

But the win could prove to be costly as Miami lost starting shooting guard and third leading scorer Dion Waiters to an ankle injury.

He left the game with 3:24 left in the second quarter and did not return. The good news is that X-rays showed he did not suffer a fracture.

“It’s unfortunate,” Spoelstra said. “You feel the crowd (react to Waiters’ going down), and that’s how we felt, too.”

Waiters got hurt while driving to the rim and landing on the foot of a Minnesota defender. Waiters had six points when he left the game.

Goran Dragic scored 19 points and added 10 assists for Miami.

Elsewhere, John Wall set a career high with 20 assists and Bradley Beal scored 24 points as the Washington Wizards bounced back from a rare home loss with a 112-107 win over the Chicago Bulls.

The Wizards improved to 42-26 on the season but not before letting let most of a 19-point halftime lead slip away because of some sloppy defence. But they still managed to hold on and end a modest two game losing streak.

Otto Porter and Wall each made two free throws inside the final 19 seconds after Jimmy Butler’s three-pointer made the score 108-107 with 39 seconds left.

Wall had 14 points and played 33 minutes despite suffering a sprained left foot Wednesday’s 112-107 loss to the Dallas Mavericks.

AFP

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