Winderman’s view: In defeat, future comes into view for Heat in Minnesota
Observations and other notes of interest from Saturday night’s 106-90 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves:
– This was one of those nights when you could see the possibilities if the Heat consistently were in win-now mode.
– Nikola Jovic created his moments on the boards and from the 3-point line.
– But win-now means minutes instead for Kevin Love, who sat this one out with a shoulder issue.
– Jamal Cain showed the type of athleticism this roster otherwise lacks.
– But that was with Jimmy Butler taking the night off.
– Jaime Jaquez Jr. showed unusual poise for a rookie.
– But this is a team that assuredly made playing-time assurances to Josh Richardson to nab him on the free-agent market at the veteran minimum.
– So, yes, the kids could contribute more.
– But that is not what this, at this moment, is built for.
– Still, it was an encouraging night of what could be ahead.
– The kids? They were all right.
– With limited options to round out his starting lineup, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra opened with Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, Kyle Lowry, Jovic and Jaquez.
– That mix was created with Butler opting for rest and Love out with his shoulder injury.
– The options were further diminished with Caleb Martin, Richardson and Haywood Highsmith also out. Of those three, only Martin having made a single appearance this season.
– Jovic had started eight games last season as a rookie.
– Jaquez started all 103 games over his final three seasons at UCLA, before being drafted No. 18 by the Heat in June.
– Duncan Robinson played as the Heat’s first reserve.
– With Jamal Cain and Dru Smith entering together next.
– Smith was another young player who had his moments.
– When Thomas Bryant made it nine deep midway through the opening period, it left Orlando Robinson, R.J. Hampton and Cole Swider as the only available Heat players not to see action.
– With his fifth point, Robinson passed Richardson for 21st on the Heat all-time scoring list.
– Also, with the appearance, Robinson tried P.J. Brown for 20th on the Heat all-time regular-season games list, at 284.
– Jovic was active early on the boards, with five rebounds in his eight first-period minutes, later moving to a season high.
– Lowry was moving the ball early, with four first-quarter assists.
– The shorthanded roster also had Spoelstra turning early to zone defense.
– The NBA’s officiating report on Saturday upheld the decision on the Butler foul that Spoelstra had challenged during a decisive closing moment in Friday’s loss in Boston.
– The report essentially said that while there was agreement with Spoelstra that there was no Butler foul on the play Spoelstra challenged, which otherwise would have been a Boston backcourt violation in a three-point game, there had been a Butler foul earlier in the sequence.
– Spoelstra’s postgame comment Friday was that the earlier uncalled foul was not germane to his challenge or in “proximity” to the call that was not a foul.
– Per the NBA report, ” Replay review of the foul called on Butler (MIA) pursuant to a coach’s challenge was deemed unsuccessful. Butler (MIA) reaches in and initiates contact with White’s (BOS) arm during the drive that causes him to lose control of the ball.”
– Of the league’s ruling, Spoelstra brushed the issue aside pregame Saturday, saying, “I don’t need any more discussion on it.”
– Spoelstra spoke pregame of working with Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards with USA Basketball this summer at the World Cup, where Spoelstra served as an assistant on Team USA for Steve Kerr.
– “We spent a great deal of time together, not just Ant and myself,” Spoelstra said. “When you’re away from home and in a foreign place and you have a beautiful game of basketball to share, but you have so many moments and extra time around each other, you’re able to get to know people probably a little bit quicker than you normally would. I mean, we were in Manila for 21 straight days. But I’m a big fan of his. I was able to coach him two summers ago with the Select Team.”
– Spoelstra added, “And then just to see how much he’s matured and grown as a man and as a professional in those two years is great to see. He just has such an engaging, unique personality, so it’s hard not to like him. He’s always got a smile on his face. But he’s a competitor. He really works and competes at the game.”