As good as the Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs have been this
season, over the last 24 games, they’ve got nothing on the Miami Heat. Miami
improved to an NBA-best 20-4 in that stretch last night after defeating the
Charlotte Hornets 108-101 thanks to some clutch baskets from Dion Waiters. His
play on that night and throughout this Heat run has been more than crucial,
writes Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald:
Dion Waiters has a way with words.
Lately, he’s become a guy who has a way of hitting big-time shots late in games.
On Wednesday night, the player coach Erik Spoelstra said has an acute level of
irrational confidence, powered the Heat once again. He scored 24 points and made
three three-pointers over the final four minutes and 14 seconds of a
back-and-forth tussle with the Charlotte Hornets to lift the Heat to a thrilling
108-101 victory at AmericanAirlines Arena.
The victory pulled Miami — winners of 20 of its past 24 games and now 31-34
overall — within a half game of both the Chicago Bulls (31-33) and Detroit
Pistons (31-33) for the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
“If you don’t have no confidence I don’t think you should be in this league,”
said Waiters, who after hitting the dagger to beat the defending champion
Cleveland Cavaliers on the road Monday night has begun to put together a nice
résumé of big shots late in games, including the off-balance three-pointer he
buried Wednesday over Kemba Walker to put the Heat up 105-98 with 45.3 seconds
“I’m not going to sit here and say it was a bad shot because I work on them
shots,” Waiters continued. “I’m not ever going to say that — even if it was.”
His coach had no problem with the shots either. Spoelstra said when his arms
were flailing down the stretch of the game, he was trying to signal to his
players to create better spacing for Waiters, who was pinned on the sideline.
“No matter what his percentage may be during the course of a game or for the
season, you get down to those last couple minutes and he’ll think that his
percentage is 60 percent,” Spoelstra said of Waiters.
“That’s more than half the battle in this league, your confidence and your
ability to make plays over the top. But he actually had a couple other plays,
too, not just the threes. We were dead in the water, their defense really got us
flattened out, and he saved us on a couple of those possessions.”
“I’ve got total, 100 percent confidence in Dion,” said Wayne Ellington, who was
3 of 8 on three-pointers for the Heat. “He’s a gamer, man. When that clock is
running down and he’s got it in his hands I know he’s going to do something good
with it. He’s been coming up clutch for us. He’s a clutch player.”