The Miami Heat almost saw a huge lead wiped away in their 112- 106 win over the Sacramento Kings on Friday.
With few precious games remaining on the schedule, this was a game that Miami could not afford to lose. The Heat led by as much as 24 at one point, before the Kings threatened to steal the contest in the fourth quarter. This was not the first time this season that the Heat saw a huge margin disappear.
Miami took a 16-point lead into the final quarter against a team that is simply playing out its schedule at 30-46. What should have been an opportunity to rest starters turned into a panic-inducing game. A clutch three-pointer from Luol Deng with 45.7 seconds remaining became a necessary basket.
With the win, the Heat are now tied with the Charlotte Hornets for third place in the Eastern Conference. Miami owns the tiebreaker over Charlotte and could still easily finish anywhere from the third to the sixth seed in the East. The Heat have not clinched a playoff spot as of yet, but this is seen more as an inevitability at this point.
Dwyane Wade missed this game due to injury and could also be unavailable for the Heat in their next game. With Wade out of action, the start went to Gerald Green and he answered the call with a team-leading 30 points. Green was huge for Miami up until the point he was hit with a technical foul. The foul helped the Kings in their comeback attempt, and put a bad mark on what was otherwise a great night for Green.
Deng ended up with 17 points including the aforementioned clutch trey. The veteran also contributed three rebounds and four assists. Deng will need to have a big night again if Wade is unable to play in Miami's next game. When Wade is not on the court, Deng often sees his usage increase, and his leadership on the court needed at a higher rate.
The Heat will next take on the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday at 10:00 p.m.