MIAMI (AP)—For one night, it all worked. Half-court alley-oop passes, 3-pointers in transition, even the occasional lucky bounce off the glass.
The Miami Heat still have the worst record in the NBA.
But they looked nothing like the league’s worst team Tuesday night.
“I know we’ve had it in us,” a visibly relieved Heat coach Pat Riley said. “I don’t know where it’s been. But tonight, we played extremely well. We just played a complete game for 48 minutes.
“I feel like a mosquito in a nudist colony,” Riley added. “I know what to do. I just don’t know where to start.”
Dwyane Wade finished with 15 points and nine assists for the Heat, who won for just the second time in their last 28 games—and did so in style, with their largest margin of the season.
Miami held Sacramento to 10 percent shooting (2-for-20) in the third quarter, a Heat franchise record. The Heat held a 31-11 edge in that period, the first time in more than a year Miami outscored a foe by at least 20 points in a quarter, and went on to become the final NBA team this season to reach the 10-victory mark.
“That was our best third quarter in two years running since the championship year,” Wade said. “That’s what you like to see, especially coming out at halftime, putting a team away and really showing that we wanted the game.”
Sacramento missed its first 14 shots of the third quarter, not getting anything to fall until Quincy Douby’s jumper with 2:37 left in the period.
By then, Miami was in full control.
“That probably is about the worst we’ve played all year,” Kings coach Reggie Theus said. “The guys were not focused on what they were trying to do. I just thought it was a bad effort on our part.”
Miami’s franchise-record streak of 125 straight sellouts ended; there were 357 unsold tickets.
The Heat couldn’t have complained about much else.
Mark Blount finished with 14 points and nine rebounds, Earl Barron and Ricky Davis each scored 11, while Jason Williams added 10 points. Williams matched Wade with a game-high nine assists for Miami, which won for the first time since trading Shaquille O’Neal to Phoenix earlier this month.
The Heat started the third quarter on a wild 25-4 run, capped by Wade’s three-point play. He got hit by Brad Miller on a drive, the ball teetered on the rim and eventually dropped through.
All of Sacramento’s scoring during that 9 1/2 -minute stretch came on free throws by Artest.
“Wow. Wow,” Artest said, when asked about the third quarter. “They came out and took that third quarter in the first couple of minutes. Usually when you do that, you’ve got a good chance to win the game.”
Indeed, it was a rare easy night for Miami, which enjoyed a 20-point lead only one other time this season. The Heat led Charlotte by as many as 29 points on Nov. 27 in a 110-90 victory.
Sacramento still has slim playoff hopes in the loaded West, but has dropped two straight and will need an epic run to catch the top eight teams in that half of the league. It led by seven points late in the first quarter, and seemed poised to do what just about everyone else does against Miami.
This time, though, the Heat had resolve.
Haslem had nine points in the second quarter as Miami began building a lead, while Marion, Wade and Williams all scored late in the half to help the Heat take a 56-48 edge, their largest to that point. And after halftime, they were never challenged.
“It feels good to get this first one,” Marion said. “Now let’s try to string a few of them along.”
Miami has won eight straight against Sacramento. … Artest missed Sacramento’s morning shootaround practice with what was described as a touch of food poisoning. … The previous Heat franchise record for field-goal percentage defense in a quarter was 10.5, when Toronto shot 2-for-19 in the third quarter of a game on Feb. 11, 1996. … Wade was bidding to become the first Heat player to have four straight games of 30 points or more during the regular season. He pulled off the feat during the 2006 NBA finals against Dallas. … One day after becoming a father, Heat forward Dorell Wright did not play.