Dragic scores 21, Heat beat Suns 115-98 as tensions run high
MIAMI (AP) Tyler Johnson scored a career-high 26 points, Goran Dragic added 21 against his former team and the Miami Heat beat the Phoenix Suns 115-98 on Monday night in a game that included two third-quarter altercations.
Hassan Whiteside finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds before getting ejected for Miami, which got 16 points and nine assists from Dwyane Wade.
Eric Bledsoe and P.J. Tucker each scored 20 for the Suns, with Tucker adding 14 rebounds. Markieff Morris and Brandon Knight scored 13 apiece, Marcus Morris had 11 and Alex Len added 10 points and 11 rebounds.
The story line was supposed to be Dragic facing the club that traded him to Miami last month, amid hurt feelings on both sides.
Emotions boiled over instead.
In all, there were five player technicals, three ejections and two flagrant fouls assessed in the third quarter alone, the 12 minutes of play needing 42 minutes to complete.
Markieff Morris was ejected for a flagrant-2 foul against Dragic in the third quarter, and Whiteside and Len were both tossed later in the period after getting tangled up under the Miami basket.
Markieff Morris' ejection with 8:43 left came after referees who took at least two long looks at the replays determined that he shoved Dragic in the back on a fast break. Dragic landed hard on the wood behind the basket, remaining down briefly.
Whiteside and Len went at it about 4 minutes later, scuffling after Whiteside had a rebound and dunk.
And the Heat got another scare later in the third, when Johnson went down and stayed there, holding his left ankle. He returned to the game moments later, finishing 10 for 13 from the field.
Miami was down six in the early going, then on the strength of its highest-scoring quarter of the season seemed to have command at halftime.
The Heat scored 39 points in the second, one more than they managed in the fourth against Atlanta to set their season best on Saturday, and went into the locker room with a 62-48 lead. Wade and Dragic combined for 17 points in the second and Miami led by as many as 18 before Knight and Marcus Morris made a pair of late 3s.
That all seemed long forgotten by the finish.
Suns: The Suns beat the Heat in 30 of the teams' first 39 meetings, and now have lost 13 of the last 14 including the past 10. ... Four of Phoenix's starters shook hands with Dragic in the moments just before tip-off, Bledsoe who was about 30 feet away being the exception. ... The Suns have been outscored by 41 points in the first halves of their last two games, after trailing San Antonio 51-24 on Saturday. ... Markieff Morris also got his 13th technical to tie for the NBA season high.
Heat: After using only eight players Saturday night against Atlanta, the Heat used 11 in the first quarter alone. ... Dragic picked up two fouls in the first 3:26, the second-fastest two fouls to start a game in his career, topped by the 2:41 he needed to get there on March 18, 2012 also against Phoenix, when he was with Houston. ... Wade moved into 60th place on the NBA's career scoring list on a dunk with 3:20 left in the half, his 18,337th point passing former Heat star Glen Rice (18,336).
Suns: At Orlando on Wednesday.
Heat: Host Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.