For all the chatter surrounding the Cavaliers, Celtics, Wizards and Raptors this season, few have mentioned the Heat as possible contenders in the Eastern Conference.
While the Heat may not have a lineup filled with superstars, they earned their fourth straight win Sunday by outlasting the Jazz 103-102 at home, vaulting to fifth in the East.
Miami had six players reach double-figure scoring in the win, led by Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson’s 16 points apiece. Hassan Whiteside and Josh Richardson added 14 points apiece, and Kelly Olynyk chipped in with 12 points.
The Heat (22-17) are void of any real weakness defensively, and have started putting up more explosive offensive numbers. Dragic remains one of the more underrated floor generals in the NBA, and James Johnson, a starter on most teams, came off the bench Sunday to score 13 points with 11 rebounds.
Sensational rookie Donovan Mitchell led Utah with a game-high 27 points, but the rest of the team struggled to convert. Point guard Ricky Rubio scored just four points on 0-for-6 shooting.
The Heat might just fly under the radar all the way to a deep postseason run.
Stud of the Night
Playing without Damian Lillard, a late scratch before Sunday’s clash with a calf injury, Portland found a balanced scoring attack to beat the Spurs 111-110 at home. Maurice Harkless was a huge contributor off the bench, scoring 19 points off 7-of-10 shooting in just 24 minutes of action. Harkless also added five rebounds and two key blocks.
Duds of the Night
Russell Westbrook’s supporting cast: The reigning league MVP recorded his 14th triple-double of the season, scoring 26 points with 11 assists and 10 rebounds. However, the Thunder still lost 114-100 to the lowly Suns. Carmelo Anthony and Paul George shot a combined 11 of 28 from the field, and the bench managed just 21 points.
Speaking of bad bench play:
Lakers forward Brandon Ingram gets it done on both ends of the court:
Ingram scored 20 points to help the Lakers defeat the Hawks.
Cavaliers (26-13) at Timberwolves (25-16) 8:00 p.m. ET — Minnesota, winners in eight of its last 11 games, host the Cavaliers, who have lost four of their last six games. Cleveland has endured a roller-coaster season, but things are starting to fall into place. The young Timberwolves are starting to gel on both ends of the court, making them potential playoff sleepers as they continue to mesh.