Heat ace 4-0 trip, extend win streak to six with 111-105 victory in Charlotte
CHARLOTTE – What could have been a road to ruin continues to be a road to redemption, with the Miami Heat acing the first of two extended trips this month, closing out a 4-0 road run with a 111-105 victory Tuesday night over the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center.
In extending their winning streak to six, the Heat overcame an early 11-point deficit, foul trouble for their point guards and shaky early 3-point shooting.
Their reward? A one-game homestand – Thursday against the Brooklyn Nets at Kaseya Center – before a five-game trip opening Saturday against the Chicago Bulls.
Amid their season-opening run of 12 of 17 on the road, the most road games in the NBA over that span, the Heat nonetheless have righted themselves from a 1-4 start to a 7-4 record. In addition, they moved to 2-0 in their four-game group-play schedule in the NBA’s In-Season Tournament.
With Tyler Herro sidelined by the Grade 2 ankle sprain sustained against the Memphis Grizzlies a week ago at the start of this trip, the Heat turned to Jimmy Butler, who scored 32 and Bam Adebayo, who closed with 21 points and 11 rebounds. They were supported by 18 points from Duncan Robinson, 17 from Jaime Jaquez Jr., and 12 from Haywood Highsmith.
P.J. Washington led the Hornets with 32 points, with Charlotte guard LaMelo Ball adding 28 points, 11 assists and six rebounds.
Five Degrees of Heat from Tuesday night’s game:
1. Closing time: The Hornets led 32-24 at the end of the opening period, shooting 6 of 7 on 3-pointers over the opening 12 minutes.
The Heat then stormed to a 57-48 halftime lead, with Highsmith scoring all 12 of his first-half points in the second period, a quarter that ended with Butler banking in a 3-pointer at the buzzer from just beyond midcourt. Highsmith four first-half steals tied his career single-game high.
The Heat went up 13 midway through the third quarter, with Charlotte closing within 87-80 going into the fourth.
Charlotte then got within four early in the fourth and stood within five with eight minutes to play. With that margin, Butler returned with 6:38 to play.
Both teams then made a series of 3-pointers, leading to a Heat timeout with a 105-101 lead with 3:33 to play. Five points from Butler followed for a 108-101 Heat lead.
The shorthanded Hornets kept pushing, closing within 109-105 with 42.3 seconds left on a pair of Ball free throws, matched then by a pair of Butler free throws with 13.5 seconds left.
2. Quick seat: After Kyle Lowry got Sunday night off in San Antonio for rest, the veteran point guard again found himself with ample bench time, called for two fouls in the game’s first 49 seconds, then forced to the bench with his third foul with 8:31 left in the first period. He sat for the balance of the half.
Lowry then was replaced by Dru Smith, with Heat coach Erik Spoelstra earlier in the day having expressed a preference of maintaining continuity with Josh Richardson in the second unit.
Richardson, though, was called on soon enough, with Smith called for two fouls in his first 3:29, with that his only stint in the first half.
Until Butler was called for a foul with 2:35 left in the opening period, the only Heat fouls were on their two point guards.
Lowry then was called for his fourth foul early in the third period, with Spoelstra allowing him to play through.
3. Shorthanded: To say the Hornets were shorthanded would be understatement. Missing for Charlotte due to injury were Gordon Hayward, Brandon Miller, James Bouknight, Cody Martin, Frank Ntilikina and Terry Rozier. In addition, Miles Bridges was serving the final game of his 30-game NBA suspension for a domestic-violence incident.
“I didn’t have to say much this morning,” Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said of his game-day shootaround. “They looked around and said, ‘Oh, s – – t, there’s only 10 players.’ ”
Clifford acknowledged, “It’s not ideal. I would totally agree with you.”
4. In a zone: After the Hornets opened 6 of 6 on 3-pointers, the Heat got their defense back in order behind zone defense anchored by Adebayo and bolstered by the activity of Highsmith.
That, in turn, got the Heat out in transition to offset a 2-of-16 start on 3-pointers. Ultimately, it left the Hornets with 12 first-half turnovers and 0 for 7 on 3-pointers for the balance of the first half after the Heat went to their zone.
But by the second half, the Hornets began to solve the Heat zone, getting the turnovers down and their 3-pointer back up.
5. The Tournament: The game was the second of four for the Heat in group play in the In-Season Tournament,
Still remaining for the Heat in group play is a Nov. 24 road game against the New York Knicks and a Nov. 28 home game against the Milwaukee Bucks. As with all tournament games other than the championship, the results also count in the regular-season standings.
With wins in those remaining pool-play games, the Heat not only would win their group, but likely host a Tournament quarterfinal. The semifinals and championship are the first week of December in Las Vegas.
Teams advancing to the quarterfinals are guaranteed a tournament bonus of at least $50,000, a scale that rises to $500,000 for each member of the championship team.