A grammar school mistake by Norris Cole on an inbounds play cost the Heat dearly during their 102-101 road loss to the Timberwolves on Wednesday.
File this one under "Blunder" with a capital B. With less than a minute remaining and the Heat leading 101-100, Kevin Martin hit a go-ahead jumper for the Timberwolves. Instead of simply inbounding the ball and looking to regain the lead on the other end, Cole fouled things up in unusual fashion. The fourth-year point guard first went to retrieve the ball on the baseline and shoveled it inbounds to Hassan Whiteside, who was standing in play underneath the hoop. Cole then came inbounds himself and rather than proceed upcourt, he inexplicably told Whiteside to go out of bounds and inbound the ball to him again.
Once Whiteside followed those orders, Cole flipped him the ball, which caused a turnover because Whiteside touched the ball while out of bounds. The official scorer gave the turnover to Whiteside, a seven-foot center who was picked up by the Heat earlier this season, but the error belonged to Cole. Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio and referee Violet Palmer were all over the botched exchange, removing any possibility that Cole's mistake might slip through unnoticed.
While Minnesota wasn't able to extend its lead on its ensuing possession, the turnover cost Miami valuable seconds on the clock. Martin's jumper ultimately stood as the game-winner, with neither team managing to score before the end of regulation.
Martin posted a game-high 30 points, three rebounds and three assists. Thaddeus Young added 16 points, three rebounds and five steals.
The late-game error spoiled another strong night for Whiteside, who finished with 24 points, 20 rebounds and two blocks. Cole tallied 15 points and three assists.
Minnesota improved to 9-40. Miami fell to 21-28 and now sits just 1.5 games up on Brooklyn for the East's final playoff spot.