MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — It may be too little too late, but then again it may not.
For the Miami Heat, there is still playoff hope.
They have Hassan Whiteside, Dwyane Wade and the Chicago Bulls to thank for that.
Whiteside tied a career high with 24 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, Wade scored 22 points and the Heat kept their slim postseason hopes alive with a 100-93 win over the Orlando Magic on Monday night.
Luol Deng scored 14 points and Goran Dragic finished with 13 points, eight assists and seven rebounds for the Heat, who still need a win at Philadelphia on Wednesday and help in three other games to make the postseason for the seventh straight year. Brooklyn could have eliminated Miami on Monday with a win, but the Nets lost at home to the Bulls 113-86.
“We just came in playing as hard as we could,” Whiteside said. “The fans deserve 100 percent effort from us. We’re not going to sit there and back down because of the standings. We’re going to try to win as many games as we can … we still hope.”
Miami had a 22-point lead whittled down to six in the final minute. But Deng made a 3-pointer with 32.6 seconds left to snap a streak of nine straight Miami misses, and the Heat held on.
Victor Oladipo scored 30 points for the Magic. Tobias Harris had 26 and Elfrid Payton scored 10 for Orlando, which ends its season Wednesday at Brooklyn.
So forget how Miami had lost nine of its last 12 coming into Monday. Forget that LeBron James left in July after four straight NBA Finals trips, Josh McRoberts hurt a knee in December and Chris Bosh had his season end because of blood clots on one of his lungs in a scary February episode.
After all that, and more, the Heat are still alive in the playoff race.
There’s only one scenario by which Miami would get in, and it requires four outcomes to go its way. On Tuesday, Washington must beat Indiana. Then on Wednesday, not only would Miami have to win in Philadelphia, but Orlando would have to beat Brooklyn and Memphis would have to down the Pacers.
Improbable, but not impossible.
“You’ve got to play it out,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who got career win No. 350. “Things have to go all the way to completion. You reveal your character when the odds are stacked against you.”
Miami outscored Orlando 17-4 over a three-minute stretch late in the first quarter to open a 13-point lead, and the Heat kept control the rest of the way. Wade and Chris Andersen each had six points in the second as the Heat led by as many as 22 before taking a 57-39 lead into the locker room.
And the Heat, as has been their custom lately, fell apart late — but had enough of a cushion to survive.
Magic: Orlando has lost 12 of their last 13 meetings against Miami. … The Magic held out shooting guard Evan Fournier, who has appeared in only two of his team’s last 22 games because of a sore right hip. “We have a big summer coming, we want him healthy for the summer,” coach James Borrego said. … Monday marked the 25th anniversary of Orlando’s 117-102 loss at Minnesota, a notable game because it was played at the Metrodome before a crowd of 45,458.
Heat: Miami finished 20-21 at home. … Whiteside had a double-double by halftime for the fourth time this season, and for the second straight game. … A fan won a waverunner at during a first-half stoppage in play, by making a shot from midcourt. … Miami had 57 points at halftime, getting to 50 by the break for the fourth straight game — matching a season best — and sixth out of the last seven.
WADE THANKS FANS
Miami has now sold out 197 consecutive regular-season games, and 246 consecutive games when including the playoffs. Wade addressed the crowd pre-game as part of Fan Appreciation Night, saying “We want to thank you guys for your support through the highs, through the in-betweens and especially the lows. We appreciate you guys and we couldn’t do anything without y’all. So simply, thank you.”
INSIDE THE BOXSCORE
Miami had a season-high 66 points in the paint, and outrebounded the Magic 50-41.
Magic: At Brooklyn on Wednesday.
Heat: At Philadelphia on Wednesday.