Adebayo paces complete Heat effort, even with heartstopping finish in 108-107 escape over Lakers
MIAMI – This was a night the Miami Heat needed, a night to see the possibilities, even while tested at almost every turn by LeBron James.
Perhaps not the finish – as heartstopping as it was – but certainly the entirety of the night.
So it was Bam Adebayo in all his versatile glory, closing with his seventh career triple-double, with 22 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists.
It was Jimmy Butler emerging from an early-season malaise with 28 on 9-of-15 shooting.
It was Tyler Herro judicious with his play even while scoring 22.
And it was Duncan Robinson providing ongoing sixth-man spark.
Most significantly, it was a 108-107 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night at Kaseya Center, a needed sendoff for a team that now plays nine of its next 10 on the road, including a four-game trip that opens Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies.
James did his part keeping the Lakers afloat, with 30 points.
But, in the end, the Heat put together enough defense to prevent yet another early-season late-game collapse.
Five Degrees of Heat from Monday night’s game:
1. Closing time: It was tied 33-33 at the end of the first period, with the Heat then moving to a 62-59 halftime lead. The Heat then opened the game’s first double-digit lead in the third period, moving to a 90-79 lead entering the fourth.
Having struggled to close out games, that again was the case for the Heat, with the Lakers within 92-86 less than two minutes into the fourth. That had Adebayo back in the game, as Butler continued to sit.
The Heat then pushed their lead back to double digits while Butler sat, with the Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell in the process called for two technical fouls and ejected.
From a 12-point lead, the Heat saw that margin closed with 100-95 with 5:51 on a Herro technical foul. But Herro on the Heat’s next possession drained a 3-pointer for a 103-05 lead.
Later, James bullied his way to a 3-point play to draw the Lakers within 108-107 with 2:39 left.
Both teams then struggled to score, before Adebayo was called for a travel with 8.9 seconds left and the Heat still up 108-107.
It ended with the Lakers’ Cam Reddish off with an open 3-pointer just before the buzzer, off a precise James pass.
2. Statement start: Adebayo drained an early 3-pointer when Lakers center Anthony Davis backed off and practically dared him, allowing Adebayo ample time to dribble and set.
It was the ninth 3-pointer of Adebayo’s seven-season career.
Later in that first period, Adebayo was called for a technical foul for hanging on the rim.
Adebayo attempted seven of the Heat’s first 12 shots, aggressive from the outset, up to 11 points, seven rebounds and seven assists at halftime.
Factor in his defense, and it was one of Adebayo’s most complete performances.
3. Head to head: The leading men opened head to head, with James defending Butler on one end and Butler guarding James on the other.
James had nine points in nine first-quarter minutes, Butler seven in 11 minutes in the period, each 3 of 4 from the field.
But this time, Butler took his game to the perimeter, moving to 3 of 3 on 3-pointers by the early stages of the third period.
James was not among former Heat players featured in the Heat’s pregame “Culture” introduction video. The team explained that legacy video only features retired players.
4. Highsmith again: Haywood Highsmith again was in the Heat starting lineup at power forward, which again had Kevin Love out of the mix.
The Heat opened with the same starters as Friday’s victory over the Wizards, with Highsmith joined by Adebayo, Butler, Herro and Kyle Lowry.
It was just the second time in their first seven games the Heat opened consecutive games with the same lineup.
5. The Robinson factor: Robinson continues to play as a spark off the bench, this time the first Heat player to reach double figures when he scored on a driving layup early in the second period, after converting a pair of first-quarter 3-pointers.
Robinson for the second consecutive game played as sixth man, followed off the Heat bench by Josh Richardson, Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Thomas Bryant.
Richardson’s action was limited because of three fouls in eight first-half minutes, but he came back to play the decisive closing minutes, often initiating the offense.
Robinson closed with 12 points, three assists and two rebounds.