Hassan Whiteside scored 26 points, Dwyane Wade added 16 and the Miami Heat moved a step closer to the playoffs by beating the Philadelphia 76ers 108-99 on Thursday night.
The Heat stayed No. 7 in the Eastern Conference, moving within a game of No. 6 Philadelphia.
“We weren’t about to lose this one,” Whiteside said after playing one of his best games of the season.
The Heat and 76ers have split four games this season, Miami outscoring Philadelphia 409-407. Josh Richardson scored 13 points, Tyler Johnson had 12 and Kelly Olynyk added 10 for Miami, which moved 5 1/2 games clear of ninth-place Detroit in the East race.
The Heat outplayed the 76ers when it mattered most, outscoring them 35-25 in the fourth quarter and shooting 13 for 18 to Philadelphia’s 7 for 22.
“This team understands,” Wade said. “I haven’t been here for all of them, but this team has been in 40-something close games. This team knows what needs to be done. It’s great when you have multiple guys late in games that you can go to.”
Whiteside’s spirited performance Thursday was stoked by his going up against big-man rival Joel Embiid. The two have verbally sparred on social media before – something Philly’s All-Star center does quite often – and they got into a quick dust up Thursday when Whiteside appeared to give Embiid a shove in the back and ended up hitting himself in the face.
The flare up resulted in a personal foul on Embiid and a technical foul on Whiteside.
“He tried to hit me in the back, which is kind of dirty because of the fact that I’ve had back problems,” Embiid said of Whiteside, who he’s battled both on the court and on Twitter after past meetings. “We’re going to see about that. I won’t forget about that. … He hits pretty soft, so I didn’t feel anything. But just the action of him trying to like do that, I think it’s pretty messed up. “
Dario Saric had 20 points and 10 rebounds for the 76ers, who got 19 points from JJ Redick, 17 from Embiid and 14 from Marco Belinelli.
Miami controlled the fourth and led by 11 with 2:01 left, before the 76ers had one last gasp. Redick and Belinelli combined for six points in 37 seconds, getting Philly within 101-96.
The drama essentially ended there. Whiteside made two foul shots, and Wade slammed home a lob from Richardson with 50.6 seconds left for a nine-point edge.
“He’s filling his cup from the fountain of youth,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said about Wade.
– Associated Press