Arguably the hottest NBA team at the start of the year 2017. The Miami Heat.
The Heat picked up where they left off after the All-Star break.
Hassan Whiteside scored 22 points and pulled down 17 rebounds, Dion Waiters added 22 points and the red-hot Heat pulled away late to beat the Indiana Pacers 113-95. Miami outscored Indiana 42-22 in the final 16 minutes, all with Paul George watching from the Pacers’ locker room after an ejection.
It was the 16th win in the last 18 games for the flowing Heat, who moved within 1 1/2 games of idle Detroit for the No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference.
Miami was 11-30 less than a month ago. With the snap of a finger. The Heat are now three games back of No. 6 Indiana. And the beat is on and strong.
“We’re going game by game,” Goran Dragic said. “That’s the most important thing. Tonight’s game is over.”
Paul George was ejected for the third time this season after two technical fouls on separate plays early in the third quarter. There have been echoes of George not resigning with the Pacers after next season unless more talent is added around him. The Pacers are now 2-18 in George’s 20 games, including playoffs, at Miami with losses in each of the last 11.
Myles Turner scored 18 points and Jeff Teague added 16 for Indiana. George had 10 points in 19 minutes.
The temperatures will only rise in Miami in March. Whiteside got his 37th double-double. Josh Richardson, now back from a foot sprain, played at home for the first time since Jan. 1. Miami’s streak of 100-point games started after a win against Dallas last month when the Heat managed only 99. The Heat visit Dallas on Monday. There are no coincidences.
March will be filled with madness. The Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors, Portland Trailblazers and the struggling New York Knicks will be visiting three oh five (spell check).
The Pacers visit Houston on Monday, the second stop on this five-game road trip. The Heat visit Dallas, Miami’s last regular-season game outside the Eastern Time Zone.