Heat stagger late, with Butler, Adebayo unable to hold off Warriors in 123-110 loss – The Denver Post


Appreciate this: With the Miami Heat playing on the second night of a back-to-back set against a team idle the previous night, Stephen Curry stood at midcourt with 5:31 to play repeatedly beating his chest after draining a crossover, step-back 3-pointer.

It took that much for the Golden State Warriors to finally put it away.

Yes, a 123-110 Heat loss Thursday night at Chase Center.

Yes, now a 2-4 record for Erik Spoelstra’s team.

But the fact that it required some of the best from the Warriors, including some of the best from Golden State’s best player, nonetheless was heartening.

Play this way against a team that is not the defending NBA champion and there figure to be positive results for the Heat.

“At some point, these experiences help you,” Spoelstra said.

With Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo at the top of their games and the Heat feisty and menacing on the defensive end, they arguably put together a performance even better than what produced victory a night early against the Portland Trail Blazers at the start of this three-game western swing that concludes Saturday against the Sacramento Kings.

Butler closed with 27 points, eight assists, six rebounds and six steals, Adebayo with 26 points and eight rebounds.

What the Heat couldn’t overcome was a 50-31 rebounding deficit.

“We competed,” Butler said. “We just couldn’t get it done.”

With Curry scoring 33, the Warriors had enough to hold on.

“Got to do more to make sure we get some Ws from here on out,” Butler said.

Five Degrees of Heat from Thursday’s game:

1. Closing time: The Heat trailed 63-59 at halftime and 92-87 going into the fourth quarter.

Golden State then went up by eight with just over eight minutes to play.

After the Heat got within five, Curry drained his chest-pumping 3-pointer for a nine-point lead and moments later a Klay Thompson 3-pointer put Golden State up nine, with a Curry 3-pointer with 2:40 to play extending the lead to 11.

“There were some costly things tonight where we really didn’t have a chance in the last two minutes to make it a possession game,” Spoelstra said. “I thought our activity level was good.

“They take and make tough shots.”

2. Battered on boards: The Heat not only were outrebounded by 19, but outscored 27-8 on second-chance points.

“If we want to get the ball, we can get the ball,” Butler said of the Heat trying to win with an undersized roster.

Said Adebayo, “We’ve got to really box out. We’ve got to find bodies and hit bodies.”

Point guard Kyle Lowry agreed about not making excuses.

“What hurt us was points in the paint,” he said.

3. Downsized: Part of that rebounding problem was the Heat were left without a true backup center when Dewayne Dedmon was declared out shortly before tipoff. That was with Omer Yurtseven sent back to South Florida earlier in the day due to the ankle issue that has had him out since the preseason opener.

That had 19-year-old rookie Nikola Jovic getting his first NBA first-quarter minutes, after making his NBA debut a night earlier.

After a foul-filled debut Wednesday, Jovic went without one during his opening 2:46 stint, before Adebayo was rushed back into the game following a brief rest. Jovic played 7:36 without a foul Thursday night.

“It was extreme circumstances tonight,” Spoelstra said of being shorthanded in the middle.

4. Having it all: Butler continues to show the full range of his game, closing 8 of 13 from the field, 4 of 7 on 3-pointers and 7 of 7 from the line.

The Heat particularly played to Butler’s strengths when Adebayo was out, playing an almost exaggerated five-out offense that left Butler free to orchestrate and attack.

“We played him at every position tonight,” Spoelstra said.

With Butler doing it on the second night of a back-to-back set.

“He finds his way to play his best in these unique circumstances,” Spoelstra said.

5. Limited option: This was a night when the Heat well could have turned to Plan B had Victor Oladipo been available, instead of back in South Florida again treating a sore knee.

It was a night that called for an alternative to Tyler Herro, who closed 3 of 12 from the field and 1 of 5 on 3-pointers.

At one point in the third quarter, Herro pulled the trigger on a wayward 3-pointer early in the shot clock only to see Curry convert one in transition on the same sequence, for an immediate six-point swing.



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