Heat storm back against shorthanded Celtics for 98-95 victory in Butler’s absence – The Mercury News
No, not a complete game, something that was shuffled out of the equation considering the missing bodies on both sides.
But an emphatic win, punctuated by the power play of Bam Adebayo.
Which, at this stage of the season is what the Miami Heat need most.
And so, with Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Al Horford out for the Boston Celtics, the Heat did what was required Tuesday night at Miami-Dade Arena, pushing to a 98-95 victory and moving to a season-best five games above .500.
“If we have to win ugly, so be it,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We held them to 13 points in the fourth quarter.”
With Jimmy Butler unable to go due to back tightness, the Heat rode Adebayo, who finished with 30 points and 15 rebounds, supported by 15 points from Haywood Highsmith, 13 from Max Strus and 12 from Victor Oladipo, on a night the Heat got 4-of-19 shooting from Tyler Herro and 1 of 7 shooting from Kyle Lowry.
The Heat outscored the Celtics 21-8 over the final 8:46, with Adebayo putting the Heat ahead for good with a 13-foot jumper with 20.4 seconds to play.
“We don’t want this to keep happening,” Adebayo said of having to battle back, while also showing the resolve to do so. “That’s the biggest thing for us. We don’t want to keep digging ourselves a hole and trying to dig ourselves out.”
Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 31 points, adding 14 rebounds and seven assists.
Five Degrees of Heat from Tuesday’s game:
1. Closing time: The Heat led 32-30 at the end of the first period and then trailed 58-50 at halftime, after shooting 6 of 24 from the field and 1 of 8 on 3-pointers in the second quarter, with Boston closing the half on an 11-0 run.
The Celtics went up 14 in the third period before the Heat closed within 82-75 entering the fourth.
The Heat then went down 10 midway through the fourth quarter, before tying it 87-87 on an Adebayo dunk with 5:45 remaining.
A Herro 3-pointer later extended the Heat’s run to 15-0 and put the Heat up 92-87.
Through it all, the Celtics tied it 95-95 with 42 seconds to play on a Grant Williams 3-pointer, before Adebayo drained his jumper for a 97-95 Heat lead, off a Herro assist.
“I was able to find him in the pocket.” Herro said, “and that’s his sweet spot.”
Finally, when needed most, Herro stepped up with a steal of a Jayson Tatum pass with 1.2 seconds to play, leading to a Heat timeout with nine-tenths of a second to play.
After Highsmith made one of two free throws, it ended with Boston’s Payton Pritchard off on a potential tying 3-pointer with six-tenths of a second to go.
2. Adebayo competes: With Butler out and the Heat wings off, Adebayo seized control with a 12-point third period, while also regularly switching out for the defensive assignment on Tatum.
He then scored nine points and added eight rebounds, playing all 12 minutes of the fourth quarter.
“I just think he’s an All-Star and he showed it tonight,” Spoelstra said.
“Bam was terrific also, on the back side of our zone.”
Adebayo closed 12 of 22 from the field and 6 of 8 from the line.
“Coach is doing a great job of emphasizing getting me the ball and I’m just taking advantage of my opportunity,” Adebayo said.
Teammates had no issue with Adebayo’s seizing the moments.
“I definitely see his will and his power to will us to a win,” Highsmith said of Adebayo’s energy providing inertia. “He was definitely getting in his bag.”
The Heat again tried to buy time with two-way player Orlando Robinson as Adebayo’s backup, with Dewayne Dedmon yet to play in the six games since his one-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team.
3. The Highsmith factor: Shuffled out of the Heat rotation with the team’s recent return to health, Highsmith provided a needed spark with his energy and 3-point shooting on a night the Heat weren’t getting it from their starting wings.
“Really inspiring,” Spoelstra said of Highsmith’s play. “He was burning the most calories. He was all over the place. H was playing so well, you couldn’t take him out of the game.”
Limited to a total of 12 minutes of mop-up duty in routs the previous three games, including held out by coach’s decision in Sunday’s victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, Highsmith was injected into the mix with start power forward Caleb Martin dealing with four trouble and a lingering quadriceps issues.
Highsmith’s fourth 3-pointer established a single-game career high, making all four of his attempts from beyond the arc.
“My role for this team is always to bring energy,” Highsmith said.
4. Four down: A total of four starters were out, with Butler sitting out for the Heat due to back tightness that the team said developed just prior to the game, and Brown, Smart and Horford listed out for Boston with injuries.
“We found out about J.B. at shootaround, his back really tightened up on him,” Spolestra said.
For the Heat it meant an end to the three-game run of the Heat having their preferred starting lineup of Butler, Adebayo, Herro, Lowry and Martin.
That starting five remains 9-8, the Heat yet to have it together for more than four consecutive games this season.
5. The three thing: Strus again played as emergency starter for the Heat, his 25th start in his 47 appearances, in a season he was expected to play as sixth man.
“I think that’s great to be able to plug and play in a lot of different roles,” Spoelstra said of Strus, “and he was able to do that tonight.”
Amid his struggles this season, Strus opened by converting his first three 3-point attempts, closing the opening period with the same 13 first-quarter points at the Celtics’ Tatum.
The problem for the Heat was they then endured a stretch of 11 consecutive missed 3-pointers before a Victor Oladipo conversion late in the third period.
The Heat finished 12 of 33 on 3-pointers, with Herro 1 of 7, Oladipo 2 of 8 and Lowry 0 for 4. That was offset by Highsmith’s 4 of 4 and Strus’ 3 of 6.
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