Let’s turn the heat off. Just for the All-Star break.
Miami enters the break 25-32, two games behind Detroit for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
I predicted bad but worse than this.
Hassan Whiteside capped off the first half of the NBA season with 23 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks to help Miami beat the Houston Rockets 117-109.
This performance came hours after getting a phone call from former Heat center Alonzo Mourning, stating to block as many shots as he can and Whiteside came through with a big game.
Dating back to last season, Whiteside has recorded at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks in a game eight times.
Entering the day, no other player had more than three such games over that span.
Whiteside was the best candidate to represent the Heat at this year’s All-Star Game in New Orleans. Carmelo Anthony will replace Kevin Love as an All-Star reserve in the East. “Congratulations to Melo. I would’ve loved for a center to represent the East. I’m trying to make the playoffs. That’s my focus,” Whiteside stated. Was he a snub? The team is under .500 however the added play of Dion Waiters and Goran Dragic in the backcourt make Miami arguably the hottest team before the break.
The Heat is turned off for the break winners of 14 of their last 16 games including wins over the Rockets twice and Warriors once.
Rockets did not hold a lead the entire game.
At 40-18, Houston holds the third spot in the West behind Golden State and San Antonio.
Whiteside briefly had a dream, greeting Rockets Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon at midcourt before the game.
Miami led 58-45 at halftime and built a lead as big as 20 points in the third quarter before Houston started making shots and trimmed the deficit late.
“There’s no easy way for this basketball team, but it started with everybody being open to the truth and holding each other accountable for the last two games,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “That has to be how we have to play and commit to that.”
The Heat swept the Rockets despite star player James Harden recording a triple-double in both games.
Miami has now scored 100 plus points in 14 straight games. That never happened in the “Big Three” era.
The beat goes on at Atlanta on Feb. 24 in their first game after the All-Star break. James Harden might as well extend his stay in New Orleans since the Rockets play at the Pelicans on Feb. 23.