Isaiah Thomas scored 25 points in another strong game off the bench, Brandon Bass added 14 and the Boston Celtics beat the Miami Heat 100-90 on Monday night.
Luigi Datome scored 13 for the Celtics, and Kelly Olynyk finished with 10.
Dwyane Wade scored 34 points for the Heat, who got 14 from Michael Beasley and 12 from Mario Chalmers. The Heat got a pregame lift from the return of Chris Bosh to the team’s bench for the first time since he was ruled out for the season last month because of blood clots on a lung.
But it wasn’t enough to keep Miami’s playoff hopes from taking another blow, and the Heat missed a chance to climb into seventh in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Instead, they remained in ninth, a half-game behind both Indiana and Charlotte. Luol Deng scored 11 for Miami, which lost Hassan Whiteside to a third-quarter ejection.
Thomas has appeared in 10 games, all off the bench, since the Celtics acquired him in a trade last month. He has averaged 21.4 points and Boston is 6-4.
Thomas had five points in a 24-second span of the third to put Boston ahead to stay, then hit maybe the biggest shot of the night — a 3-pointer with 2:36 left that gave the Celtics a 96-87 lead.
Miami went with its 26th starting lineup, and it needed some early tweaking as well. Henry Walker briefly left with a mild ankle sprain that needed a quick re-taping. A bit more problematic for Miami, however, was Whiteside departing after two fouls in the first 8 minutes, leaving him a little annoyed.
His level of anger just kept increasing, until his night came to a premature end.
Upset over a non-call on one of his drives, Whiteside didn’t get back on defense and Bass was able to get a dunk because the lane was rather wide open. And then Whiteside made it worse, coming back the other way and delivering a two-hand shove into Olynyk’s back, sending him flying.
Whiteside was assessed a flagrant-2 — getting ejected for the second time in his last four games — and the Heat got even more short-handed.
With the Heat forced to go small, Boston happily took advantage. The Celtics got 14 points in the paint in the final quarter.
Celtics: Boston improved to 8-5 in the second night of back-to-backs. The Celtics still have five of those grueling sets left this season, all of them being the home-road variety. … No Boston player got into double figures until 5:23 remained in the third quarter, when Thomas made a pair of free throws to reach 10 points. … The Celtics play host to Miami on March 25, the fourth and final regular-season matchup between the clubs.
Heat: Udonis Haslem departed the morning shootaround with icepacks strapped to his left wrist, knee and ankle. Not surprisingly, he didn’t play, and neither did Goran Dragic — still day-to-day with a lower back contusion. Dragic has missed two straight games. … Wade passed Bosh for the team lead in points this season. Wade entered the night with 919; Bosh finished his season with 928. … Whiteside has gotten a technical or flagrant in each of his last four outings.
Celtics: Host Memphis on Wednesday.
Heat: Host Brooklyn on Wednesday