The Miami Heat lost a game they needed to have with the Orlando Magic coming away 112-109 winners on Friday.
This was a bad game for Miami to lose with both the Boston Celtics and Charlotte Hornets leading their respective contests when Miami's game concluded. The Heat are continuing to battle both teams in the East for playoff positioning. The loss also puts Miami a full game back of the third seed.
The Heat now have three games remaining on the regular season schedule and only one of those will come at home. Every game is critical at this point and the playoff picture will likely come down to the final day of the season. Miami will finish its season in Boston against the Celtics on Wednesday.
Reigning Rookie of the Month Josh Richardson had another strong game with 13 points and four assists off the bench. Richardson played big minutes in the fourth quarter once again and took advantage of the opportunity. The guard made clutch baskets and fought hard for second-chance shots.
Hassan Whiteside posted yet another double-double with 13 points, 16 rebounds while also blocking four shots. The center showed no ill-effects from a recent thigh injury, and looked fully energized in the second half of a back-to-back. Whiteside would get hit in the head late in the fourth quarter which he took exception to. The center would be hit with a costly technical foul and appeared woozy.
Free-throw shooting was a problem for the Heat in the loss as a team. Miami was only 11-21 from the charity stripe, and that ended up being a difference maker in the final score.
The Heat and Magic will complete the home-and-home series on Sunday when Orlando visits AmericanAirlines Arena at 6 p.m.