Adebayo, Jaquez lead Heat past Hawks 117-109 in absences of Herro, Butler
ATLANTA – The margin of error was slight even after going up 21 in the first half.
With Tyler Herro and Jimmy Butler out for the Miami Heat, that simply is the reality.
So even with Bam Adebayo a portrait of efficiency and even with Jaime Jaquez Jr. playing with more maturity than should be expected from a rookie, there the Heat were Saturday night in a fourth-quarter scramble in what ultimately turned into a 117-109 victory against the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena.
The absence of Herro will be an ongoing reality, after the fifth-year guard sustained a Grade 2 ankle sprain in Wednesday night’s victory over the Memphis Grizzlies at the start of this four-game trip that continues Sunday night against the San Antonio Spurs.
The unexpected was the absence of Butler, who left the team Saturday due to a personal matter.
So the Heat did as they typically do in such moments, ramp up the defense, load up on 3-point attempts and hope for the worst for an opposing lead man.
The defense did its part, frustrating the Hawks in costly turnovers. The 3-point shooting wasn’t necessarily there, but the aggression was. And from Hawks guard Trae Young there was a 7-of-19 night from the field.
So with Adebayo closing with 26 points and 16 rebounds to complete one of the best regular-season weeks of his career, and with Jaquez scoring 20, the Heat found a way not to come up short while shorthanded.
In support, the Heat also got 17 points from Kyle Lowry and 16 from Josh Richardson.
Five Degrees of Heat from Saturday night’s game:
1. Closing time: The Heat led 41-24 at the end of the first period, shooting 15 of 22 in the period. They expanded their lead to 21 in the second period, but by halftime that lead was down to 63-52. Atlanta then closed within seven midway through the third, before the Heat went into the fourth up 93-82.
Atlanta reduced the deficit to single digits early in the final period, before the Heat pushed back ahead by 16 with 6:49 to play.
But later, a Bogdan Bogdanovic 3-pointer with 2:21 left got the Hawks within 113-105, the Heat caught in their latest fourth-quarter scramble, with the Hawks closing within 115-109 with 50.6 seconds left.
But, from there, a pair of Lowry free throws put it away.
2. Back at it: Picking up where he left off in Wednesday night’s performance in the victory over the Grizzlies, when he went for 30 points, Adebayo converted his first four shots Saturday, again excelling from the midrange, with 10 points in the first period and up to 16 by the intermission.
He then went into the fourth quarter one rebound shy of his double-double.
Adebayo entered having scored 52 points over the previous two games, the most of his career in a two-game stretch.
With Saturday’s effort, he rounded out the highest three-game total of his career.
3. Rookie savvy: Injected into the starting lineup out of necessity, Jaquez again showed the versatility of his game, including the ability to speed the Hawks up while playing defense, yet slow his own game to play efficiently on the other end.
While the 3-point shot remains uneven, last June’s No. 18 pick out of UCLA did convert at the second-period buzzer to give the Heat their 11-point halftime lead.
The next step is more of an appreciation of the size and chase-down speed of opposing defenders when attacking in transition.
But the confidence from the 22-year-old is undeniable, as previously evidenced by Wednesday night’s game-sealing 3-pointer Wednesday night in Memphis.
4. Another lineup: After going three consecutive games with the same lineup, after using four alignments in the first five games, the Heat this time had no choice but to change, with Herro and Butler sidelined.
So Jaquez made his third start of the season and Duncan Robinson his first, with the lineup rounded out by Adebayo, Lowry and Haywood Highmith.
In addition to being without Herro and Butler, the Heat remained without Caleb Martin, who continues to work back from offseason knee pain.
It appeared the Heat also would be without Richardson, who was added to the injury report at midday with back spasms, with the veteran guard not cleared until shortly before tipoff. Richardson entered in the Heat’s first substitution.
5. Love back: After being held out of the previous three games by coach’s decision and having missed the past four, when factoring in an absence due to a shoulder contusion, Kevin Love was back in the Heat mix as the first big man off the bench, playing ahead of Thomas Bryant.
Love converted his first two shots, including a 3-pointer.
He then drew a first-period charge on Atlanta guard Wesley Matthews that incensed Hawks coach Quin Snyder to the point of a technical foul. Snyder then challenged the charging call, was unsuccessful, and lost the right to challenge the balance of the night.
While Bryant had been active with his offense and rebounding, he had struggled with the Heat’s defensive rotations.