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After an unlucky seven, Heat snap skid with 115-106 victory over Kings behind Butler’s 31

MIAMI – The last time the Miami Heat had won a game:

– Taylor Swift wasn’t yet headed to the Super Bowl.

– Joel Embiid and Luka Doncic had yet to score 70.

– And Ron DeSantis still was a presidential candidate.

That was back on Jan. 15 when there was a one-point escape in overtime at Barclays Center against the Brooklyn Nets.

Much had changed in the interim, except for the losses that extended the Heat’s losing streak to seven, their longest in nearly 16 years.

Wednesday night at Kaseya Center, there finally was an exhale, with a 115-106 victory over the Sacramento Kings, the 1,500th regular-season win in the franchises’s 36 seasons.

No, it wasn’t easy, blowing an early 18-point lead and surviving some shaky late moments.

But the skid is over.

Jimmy Butler led the Heat with 31 points, with Bam Adebayo adding 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Tyler Herro 14 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. There also was an unexpected and welcomed 24-point boost off the Heat bench from Josh Richardson.

Those efforts, a season-high 38 assists, and stout play with the Heat’s zone defense, were needed to offset 33 points from Sacramento’s Keegan Murray and a 19-point, 17-rebound, 13-assist triple-double from Kings center Domantas Sabonis.

Five Degrees of Heat from Wednesday night’s game:

1. Closing time: The Heat led 22-28 at the end of the first period, went up 18 in the second period, with their lead down to 59-54 at the intermission,

In an eventful third period, the Heat then fell behind, went up 10, and wound up ahead 90-84 going into the fourth.

Butler then took his usual rest at the start of the fourth quarter, entering with 7:49 to play and the Heat up 97-88.

Sabonis later coveted a three-point play with 5:41 left to draw Sacramento within 99-93, before the Heat pushed back to complete their first victory in two weeks.

2. Attack mode: With Adebayo called for two fouls in the first 3:16, Butler went into attack mode early, putting his fingerprints all over the offense.

That included an alley-oop finish off a Kevin Love pass midway through the period, and then a drive-and-kick assist for a Love 3-pointer moments later.

Butler had five rebounds in his first seven minutes, aggression needed with Adebayo forced to be bench early, with nine points in his initial 10-minute stint.

Butler was up to 23 points going into the fourth quarter.

He closed 10 of 14 from the field and 9 of 12 from the line, also 2 of 3 on 3-pointers, with seven rebounds and six assists.

3. Fitting in: With Duncan Robinson in NBA concussion protocol from a fall in Saturday’s loss to the New York Knicks, it opened the door for playing time for Richardson, who seized the moment by opening 4 of 5 on 3-pointers.

Richardson scored 11 points at the start of the second period to spark a 13-0 Heat run, with 16 at the intermission.

With Richardson, it becomes less a case of the defensive sacrifice made when Robinson is called upon on that end, with Richardson helping stabilize the Heat’s zone defense at the close.

Richardson closed 9 of 15 from the field, including 6 of 10 on 3-pointers.

4. Terry tracker: It continues to be an adjustment for Terry Rozer in his adjustment from last week’s trade from the Charlotte Hornets, this time scoreless on 0-for-3 shooting in his initial stint, as well as the lone Heat starter to go scoreless in the first half.

Rozier opened 0 for 5 before converting a 3-pointer with 1:59 left in the third period, a stage when he already had nine assists.

He closed 1 of 8 from the field for three points, but also with a team-high 10 assists.

5. Sizzle season: Sabonis continues to play as the fulcrum of the Kings’ success, this time reaching his 13th triple-double of the season. Only Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, with 14, has more.

It was Sabonis’ seventh triple-double in January, the fourth player in NBA history with seven or more triple-doubles in January, joining Oscar Robertson (four), Nikola Jokic (two) and Russell Westbrook (two).

It also was Sabonis’ 29th consecutive double-double, tying Robertson for the longest double-double streak in a single season in franchise history.

Sabonis now has recorded 17 career triple-doubles with at least 15 rebounds, passing Magic Johnson (16) and Larry Bird (16) for fifth-most in NBA history.

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