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Heat hold off Nets for rare home win

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MIAMI — Although the Miami Heat never trailed Sunday night, they still are not happy — not by a long shot.

They can’t be thrilled when their record, even with the win, is just 15-20. After a 7-2 start to the season, the Heat are 8-18 since.

They can’t be pleased when their home record is an even less Heat-like at 7-12.

And they can’t be satisfied with being in eighth place in the Eastern Conference — not after reaching the NBA Finals and winning two titles in the past four years.

“We’re miserable right now,” said Heat forward Chris Bosh, who had a game-high 26 points in the Heat’s 88-84 win over the Brooklyn Nets at AmericanAirlines Arena.

The Heat are a little less miserable thanks to shooting guard Dwyane Wade, who scored 10 of Miami’s last 12 points.

Wade finished with 25 points, seven assists and six rebounds as the Heat snapped a four-game losing streak.

“We couldn’t stop Bosh, and we couldn’t stop Wade,” Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. “That’s the reason we couldn’t get any closer.”

The Heat shot just 46.3 percent from the floor, but they outscored the Nets 21-9 at the foul line and outrebounded Brooklyn by four. Miami also held the Nets to 39.5 percent shooting.

Brooklyn had a 40-28 advantage in terms of points in the paint and also topped the Heat in bench points, 43-21.

Both those advantages likely would have been even wider had it not been for Heat backup center Hassan Whiteside, 25. The 7-footer was signed by the Heat on Nov. 24, four days after he was cut by the Memphis Grizzlies.

Whiteside is emerging with the Heat, and he had his first career double-double Sunday — 11 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks.

“We didn’t know when or if that would be possible,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Whiteside’s production. “My first meeting with him was about the work and his commitment to player development — the conditioning, the weight-lifting, the pre-practice understanding of what our system is — and not being worried about minutes.

“I told him, ‘If that doesn’t appeal to you, this might not be the place for you.’ But I think he wanted to take this opportunity.”

Added Wade: “(Whiteside) is a game-changer.”

He certainly was against Brooklyn (16-17), which had its three-game win streak snapped and is now 0-3 this season against Miami.

Shooting guard Joe Johnson led five double-figure Nets scorers with 19 points.

“I thought we had some breakdowns defensively, and we were indecisive on offense,” Johnson said. “We were thinking too much and missing shots we normally make. They had a big guy in the middle (Whiteside) who was altering shots, and we had to be aware of him.”

Miami got off to a good start, leading by as many as 11 points before settling for a 30-21 advantage at the end of the first quarter. The Heat shot 60 percent from the floor and on 3-pointers (three of five) and made nine of 11 on free throws.

The teams played evenly in the second quarter, giving Miami a 49-40 halftime lead. Both teams shot below 39 percent from the floor in the second quarter.

Brooklyn made a run in the third quarter, cutting Miami’s lead to 64-59. The Heat has now been outscored by 150 points in the third quarter this season, putting them in last place in that statistic.

However, Wade came up big down the stretch while scoring at least 25 points for the 14th time this season.

Johnson said the Nets hoped to “eliminate” either Wade or Bosh in the game but instead got hurt by both of the Heat’s stars.

“Wade down the stretch made plays and knocked down free throws,” Johnson said. “They have a tough team for us.”

NOTES: The Nets entered the game with more rest than the Heat. Brooklyn, which played Friday at Orlando, had a short trip to Miami and got to rest on Saturday. The Heat had a road game at Houston on Saturday night and then traveled home for the Sunday night game. … The Nets’ recent success came with two highly paid players — PG Deron Williams and C Brook Lopez — both coming off the bench. After sustaining mild injuries, Williams and Lopez are now used as backups to PG Jarrett Jack and C Mason Plumlee. … Up next, the Heat start a five-game road trip at Portland on Thursday. The trip includes two other projected playoff teams: the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors. … The Nets have a tough back-to-back, returning home to play the Dallas Mavericks on Monday.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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