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Heat come to end of road without Butler, Adebayo in 112-97 loss to Nets

NEW YORK – What does it look like without any of your top four scorers?

For the Miami Heat, it looked like Saturday night’s  112-97 loss to the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center.

Playing in the injury absences of Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson, the Heat performed like a bunch of imperfect strangers, closing with 18 turnovers, the most by a Nets opponent this season, and lacking a consistent source of offense other than the 22 points provided forward Caleb Martin and the from by rookie wing Jaime Jaquez Jr.

The Heat also got eight points and a season-high-tying 10 rebounds from Kevin Love.

“I mean, there was definitely a competitive spirit,” coach Erik Spoelstra said of what remained from his undermanned roster. “I commend the guys for making that a fight at different times and then we were hobbled at different times.

“It was a pretty ugly game and we were doing whatever we possibly could to try to keep it within striking distance and we just weren’t able to keep it to six or eight points throughout the course of that second half. That was frustrating. But it wasn’t a matter of want or lack of effort, those kinds of things.”

The loss came with Spoelstra and the Heat practicing prudence at the end of one of the most grueling six-weeks stretches in the franchise’s 36 seasons.

Saturday not only closed out a 2-3 trip, but also a run of 9 of 10 on the road as part of a schedule that has had the Heat playing 12 of their first 17 on the road.

With all but Herro to be back as soon as Tuesday night’s visit by the Milwaukee Bucks at Kaseya Center, this was one that basically was punted,  particularly after Friday night’s grueling 100-98 loss to the New York Knicks.

“We’re going back home, we get to set our feet, play in front of our home fans,” Love said. “Guys get to get the knee to knees, the hips, the rolled ankles hopefully back on track, Duncan with the thumb, H with the back. Everybody will be feeling better and feeling healthy. And hopefully Tyler is feeling better himself. We’ll go from there.

“But I’m proud of our guys of how we’ve been able to fight through some early adversity and being on the road together.”

Five Degrees of Heat from Saturday night’s game:

1. Game flow: The Heat went down 12 early before closing the opening period within 26-22. They then trailed by 13 in the second quarter, before going into halftime down 63-53, with 11 of their turnovers in the first half.

The Heat’s deficit grew to 17 in the third period, before they went into fourth down 90-76.

The Heat’s rotation options then became further depleted when starting power forward Haywood Highsmith took a hard fall and had to be assisted to the bench 1:05 into the fourth quarter, with what the Heat reported as a lower back/SI joint contusion.

“Haywood landed on his tailbone,” Spoelstra said. “He says he’ll be alright. But all of that stuff, you just take with a grain of salt until we get back to Miami and get off the plane and see them on Monday.”

That left the Heat at that moment with a lineup on the floor of Martin, Josh Richardson, Jamal Cain, Cole Swider and Nikola Jovic, the latter three who had been in the G League earlier in the week.

“They were shooting the lights out,” Jaquez said, “and we couldn’t find a way to diminish that or put together some stops to really get us going on a run. I think that was our downfall.”

2. Roll call: The inactive Heat had the superior lineup to those available.

Butler pushed to play, including taking pregame treatment, before being ruled out with a sprained right ankle.

“He tried to get some treatment to see if it would loosen up,” Spoelstra said. “It didn’t.”

Adebayo was scratched earlier in the day, with the ongoing hip soreness that also had him out for Wednesday night’s victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Ruled out earlier was Robinson, with the thumb sprain sustained in the victory in Cleveland. Robinson shot before the game, with a brace on his thumb.

As for Herro, he is into his third week of being sidelined with a Grade 2 ankle sprain.

Without those four, and with Orlando Robinson on G League assignment, the Heat opened with a lineup of Thomas Bryant, Highsmith, Jaquez, Richardson and Kyle Lowry, their 11th lineup in their 17 games.

3. Rookie shine: Jaquez continued to show considerable moxy for a rookie, leading the Heat with 10 points at the intermission, shooting 4 of 5 in the first half.

The No. 18 pick last June out of UCLA also was an effective element in the zone the Heat turned to when forced to play so many minus defenders.

It was Jaquez’s fourth start in his 17 appearances, the lone Heat player to appear in every game this season.

“He has a knack for the ball and a knack for the play that needs to be made offensively,” Spoelstra said.

4. Coming along: Spoelstra continued his cautious approach with Martin, who certainly is of the pedigree to have started Saturday.

Returning from offseason knee pain that had him out at the start of the season, Martin continues to show improved burst and lift, albeit nothing quite what he showed against the Boston Celtics in last season’s Eastern Conference finals.

Saturday was Martin’s fifth game back from missing 10, the first time he has played both ends of a back-to-back set.

” I got to see the game a little bit earlier and kind of jump right into the fast pace,” he said. “I think I got acclimated a little bit quicker.

“It’s one of the things that I just got to put more confidence in my body, believe in my body more. Kind of just play more free.”

5. End of the road: The game ended the Heat’s season-opening run of 12 of their first 17 on the road, the most of any NBA team to this point.

The game also ended a stretch of nine of 10 on the road, with at least a three-game homestand following (it could be four, based on the results of the In-Season Tournament, with that scheduling to be determined after Tuesday’s games).

“Overall, we did what we set out to do, which is get to a higher level as a basketball team,” Spoelstra said. “We wanted to push ourselves to a different level than where we were and these two road trips pushed us to a better level. And that’s what I was hoping for even though the record wasn’t exactly what we all hoped for.

“But we’re a different team coming back to Miami.”

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