MIAMI – The 76ers have bigger goals than just clinching a season series over the Miami Heat.
But Tuesday's 102-101 loss still could end up stinging a little bit by season's end.
Dwyane Wade gave the Heat a 102-101 advantage with a 21-foot jumper with 5.9 seconds left. The Sixers had a chance to win the game in the closing seconds. However, JJ Redick misfired on a wide-open three-pointer at the top of the key before time expired.
Wade finished with a season-high 27 points.
"You can't ask for a better look," Redick said of his miss at the buzzer. "I don't know if I rushed it or not. I would have liked to set my feet a little different. Other than that, you can't ask for a better look."
The Sixers (32-27), losers of two straight, remain in seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings. Miami (32-29) is one game back in eighth.
A victory would have given the Sixers a three-game lead over the Heat. But most important, it would have given them the tiebreaker should the squads finish the regular season with the same record. That's because the Sixers won the teams' previous two meetings and now have a 2-1 series advantage. Things could get interesting if the Heat win their final meeting on March 8 in Miami.
"This is one we definitely should have had," Robert Covington said. "A few small things played a part. … We just have to be tighter, more aggressive and more dynamic when it comes to our execution."
The Sixers had a bad combination on this night: Joel Embiid battled foul trouble, Redick and Covington shot poorly and the team committed costly turnovers. It was also a bad night for the officials. Rodney Mott left the game with 11 minutes, 12 seconds remaining in the third quarter due to illness. He didn't return, leaving Bill Spooner and Lauren Holtkamp to officiate the rest of the game by themselves.
"It was kind of hard playing with two refs," Embiid said. "They didn't see everything."
Embiid had 23 points and eight rebounds in just 30 minutes due to picking up five fouls. Redick and Covington combined to shoot 6 of 24 from the field. Covington had five points on 2-for-10 shooting. Redick had 15 points but made just 4 of 14 shots.
The Sixers gave up 26 points on 23 turnovers.
They also had a tough time defending Wade, who scored 10 straight points in one stretch of the fourth quarter as the Heat fought back from a deficit of 10 points with nine minutes left. In all, he scored 15 of Miami's final 17 points.
"D-Wade down the stretch was amazing," Redick said. "That was vintage D-Wade. But I thought we competed tonight. It was like a playoff game."
Wade's 10 straight points enabled the Heat to tie the score at 95 with 2:24 left.
Redick converted three foul shots to give the Sixers a 98-95 lead with 1:47 remaining after being fouled while attempting a three-pointer.
After Hassan Whiteside closed the gap to one point, Embiid's layup put the Sixers up 100-97 with 37 seconds left. But Wade went on to win the game by scoring his team's final five points.
The 12-time all-star drew a foul on Dario Saric while pump-faking a three-point attempt with 27 seconds left. Wade made all three foul shots to knot the score at 100.
Then after Ben Simmons made one of two foul shots, Wade responded with a 21-foot jumper over the Sixers' point guard.
"It didn't catch me off guard," Simmons said of Wade's shot. "I knew he was going to take it. Didn't want to leave the floor because last time I left the floor, he jumped into me, got the foul [with 3:40 left]. It was a contested shot. It was a good shot."
But this game and Sunday's road setback to the Washington Wizards were missed opportunities. The Sixers have lost six of their last seven road games.
"If we would have won those two games, I think we would have had a chance to be third or fourth in the conference," Embiid said. "So we have to keep the same focus and win some more games."