The takeaway from these first two months of the Miami Heat’s season has been the lament of being less than whole.
The lesson Monday night from the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum is that doesn’t always matter.
Sitting leading men Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane, among others, on the second night of a back-to-back set, the Grizzlies foiled the Heat’s bid to return to South Florida at .500.
Instead, despite being mostly whole, the Heat were unable to follow up on their dramatic Friday night overtime victory over the Boston Celtics, falling 101-93.
Pounded in the paint, the Heat ended their trip at 2-2, with their record falling to 11-13.
The Grizzlies, who had only one regular starter in the lineup, center Steven Adams, who had sat out Memphis’ Sunday road victory over the Detroit Pistons, rode the season-high 28 points of fill-in guard Tyus Jones.
Tyler Herro led the Heat with 23 points and 13 rebounds. But otherwise there hardly was dominance from the rest of the team’s leading men, with Jimmy Butler closing with 18 points, Bam Adebayo 15 and Kyle Lowry 10.
The game opened a back-to-back set for the Heat that concludes Tuesday night at FTX Arena against the Pistons.
Five Degrees of Heat from Monday’s game:
1. Closing time: The Heat went up 11 early, took a 32-27 lead into the second period, but then trailed 58-51 at halftime.
The Heat then went into the fourth quarter down 82-77, with the Grizzlies then moving to their first double-digit lead, at 89-79, less than two minutes into the final period.
The double-digit edge continued for the next several minutes, with the Grizzlies going up 97-86 with 3:06 remaining.
2. Paint power: Although the Heat held their own on the offensive boards, with a 9-4 edge in that aspect, they were outscored 64-24 in the paint.
It wasn’t as much the big-muscle game of the Grizzlies, but rather Memphis getting to the rim in transition and off the drive.
The Grizzlies’ bench, even with Memphis’ depleted roster, was part of that attack mode, outscoring the Heat bench 24-11.
3. Herro ball: Unlike Friday night’s victory in Boston, when the Heat got balance among their scoring leaders, this often was Herro or bust.
Herro not only was in attack mode, but also was aggressive on the boards, with 12 in the first three quarters.
He closed 8 of 20 from the field, but just 3 of 11 on 3-pointers.
4. Sizzling start: Caleb Martin made his first four 3-point attempts, as part of the Heat’s 6-of-7 start on 3-pointers.
Martin scored 12 points in his initial nine-minute stint. He entered averaging 11.2 points per game.
Martin was up to 14 by halftime, closing with 16.
5. One man down: The NBA announced an hour before tip-off that referee Marat Kogut would not be available due to a non-Covid illness. That left Scott Foster and JB DeRosa as a two-man officiating crew.
The Heat lost their lone previous game that Kogut had officiated (a home game against the Boston Celtics). The Heat entered 0-2 in games officiated by Foster and lost the lone previous game they had officiated by DeRosa (a road loss to the Indiana Pacers).
The NBA moved from two-man to three-man officiating crews when the Heat entered the NBA in 1988-89. Only during the playoffs is an alternate official on site for games.