Miami had the lead for the entirety of the second and third quarters, and with 10:21 left in the fourth quarter, Chris Silva made a layup to put the Heat up 22, 104-82.
And then it was all downhill from there.
OKC closed the game on a 34-11 run, up to and including Mike Muscala hitting two three-pointers in the final 35 seconds to end up with the one point win. Muscala’s first triple tied the game at 113 with 34.8 to go, and the second one answered a Solomon Hill layup to put the Thunder up 116-115. Tyler Herro got one final fadeaway look at the rim for a three to win it for Miami, but it came up very short.
The loss drops Miami into a tie with Indiana for fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings at 44-28. Trust me, this will be important later.
Jimmy Butler and Jae Crowder had limited roles for Miami in this game, although this is for slightly different reasons. Butler is working his way back from an injury that had him missing a few games in the restart, and as such, he only played 15 minutes here. He added seven points, five rebounds, two assists, and two steals in his limited action, so he clearly stayed busy. Crowder saw just seven minutes of action, but that was due to a collision with Luguentz Dort in the first quarter. Both men left the game and did not return, although postgame reports from Miami head coach Eric Spoelstra make that sound like it was preventative more than anything else for Crowder. He still had three points with a 1-for-4 long range shooting performance in his limited playing time.
Los Angeles Clippers 124, Denver Nuggets 111 — A big fourth quarter was the difference in a back-and-forth game on Wednesday and Marquette’s very own Doc Rivers guided the Clippers to the 13 point win over Denver.
The Nuggets had an eight point lead at the half, their biggest lead of the game. That lead was gone in less than four minutes, with Kawhi Leonard hitting a turnaround to knot the game at 63. The Clips would build a lead as the quarter went on, but it was Denver back out in front after three periods, 92-90, thanks to a last second dunk by Grant.
The fourth quarter was pretty much all Clippers all the time, though. Denver got a 94-91 advantage early in the frame, but LA knocked out a 24-9 run that left them up 115-103 with 3:33 to go, and it was just a matter of holding on from there.
Doc was able to go nine deep with his bench in this one, which is pretty good considering it was a tight contest for the majority of the way. Paul George led the Clippers with 27 points, while Leonard added 26 and Ivica Zubac had a double-double on 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Connecticut Sun 70, Dallas Wings 66 — A five point margin at the end of the first quarter turned into a nine point lead at the half. That eventually became a 12 point deficit in the third period for Connecticut on Wednesday night against Dallas.
But, when the horn sounded to let everyone know there was only 10 minutes left to play, the score was 49-46 favoring Dallas, and that was only because of a very late bucket from Arike Ogunbowale to answer a Sun layup from Beatrice Mompremier. Connecticut scored first in the fourth on a triple from DeWanna Bonner which tied the game up, and it was on from there. The long range bomb from Bonner kicked off a 14-5 run from the Sun to start the quarter, but that only had them up six. Dallas wasn’t going away.
Connecticut needed two buckets in the final 40 seconds to put this one away. First it was Alyssa Thomas on a layup, and then it was Bonner with a hesitation move to create a lane for a surprisingly easy layup with just 10 seconds to go. I can’t drop in a tweet with the clip here because neither the Sun nor the league put it up, but I can give you this game highlight package and tell you to skip to the 1:40 mark to see it.
With Briann January making her debut for the Sun here and playing 16 minutes, it seems that Natisha Hiedeman’s minutes might start being slightly more limited as the Wubble continutes. Hiedeman got just six minutes of run, but she still contributed a steal and this bucket in her playing time.
Connecticut coach Curt Miller seems very aware of the demands of the schedule in the Wubble, so I don’t want to put a downer on the rest of the 2020 campaign for Hiedeman. More likely than not, Miller is going to lean on his bench to varying degrees in various games. We know he likes what Hiedeman does a whole bunch, which explains why she was brought back last season after being cut out of training camp. There’s still 13 games left to go, and all of those are going to come over the next month. It’s essentially an every other day situation, and making the most of your bench is going to be helpful. Connecticut is 3-1 in their last four games after starting 0-5, but they’re now fully powered with January and Theresa Plaisance ready to go.
Up Next: Miami will wrap up their bubble restart on Friday with a 3pm CT start on ESPN against Indiana. See, told you that information about that tie in the standings would be important later. The Clippers will take on Oklahoma City for their final game of the “regular season,” and that one will be on ESPN as well at 5:30pm Central, or at some point quickly after the Heat/Pacers game ends. Connecticut’s next outing is on Friday, when they’ll take on Chicago with a broadcast coming at you via @WNBA on Twitter!