Tyler Herro certainly knows how to celebrate New Year’s Eve.
So with the clock expiring Saturday night in Salt Lake City and with 2022 about to turn to 2023 back in South Florida, Herro beat the buzzer with one-tenth of a second to play with a 3-pointer that gave the Miami Heat a 126-123 victory over the Utah Jazz at Vivint Arena.
“Thank God for Tyler Herro,” teammate Victor Oladipo said. “With a name like Herro, who wouldn’t want to be in those moments?”
Having blown a sizable fourth-quarter lead for the second consecutive night at the start of this five-game western swing, the Heat were bailed out after the Jazz tied it with 6.3 seconds to play.
Playing without a timeout, the Heat went the length of the court for the winning basket by Herro.
“Just trying to create and get a shot off, trying to create a shot whether it was for myself or for a teammate,” Herro said. “We didn’t want to go to OT, so just glad the shot went in.
“It feels great, just going into the new year.”
Then again, perhaps this made sense, with the kids staying up late on New Year’s Eve to lead a celebration.
And, so, behind the play of Bam Adebayo and Herro, the Heat go into the new year with a winning record.
With Jimmy Butler away from the team to have his troublesome right knee examined in Los Angeles, where the Heat next play, and with veteran point guard Kyle Lowry again off with his game, Adebayo and Herro seized the moment.
Adebayo, 25, closed with 32 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
Herro, 22, went for 29 points, nine rebounds and six assists.
It was a typical frenzied Heat finish, one that included a key late Oladipo 3-pointer on his best night of the season, as the Heat improved to 19-18, yet to stand more than one game above .500 this season.
Five Degrees of Heat from Saturday’s game:
1. Closing time: Up seven with 3:03, similar to the late lead they blew Friday night in Denver, the Heat twice fouled 3-point shooters in the final 14.2 seconds to lead to their late desperation.
First it was a foul by Gabe Vincent that sent Jordan Clarkson to the line with those 14.2 seconds left, with Clarkson making all three free throws to bring Utah within 122-120.
Then, after Oladipo made only the first of two free throws with 13.2 seconds left, Utah regained possession down 123-120.
And that was when Haywood Highsmith fouled Lauri Markkanen on a 3-point attempt with 6.3 seconds to play, with Markkanen making all three free throws to tie it 123-123.
“H just did a tremendous job of taking away and crowding air space,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Highsmith’s defense on the play. “It really did not look like a foul live, but those are not easy plays to call. I get it. It seemed like we were debating a lot of the calls going down the stretch.”
That, in turn, set up Tyler time.
“When it was in the air,” Adebayo said, “I was like, ‘Man, Utah’s about to be an upset city.’ Sorry for whoever lives in Utah. It went in, and a good way to end the old year to the new year.”
2. Adebayo, too: While the final glory went to Herro, it was Adebayo who kept the Heat afloat.
“It was his leadership more than anything,” Spoelstra said, “constantly in the huddles keeping guys positive and focused on the task at hand. And he’s growing and really emerging with his voice.”
Asked how he approached the night’s winning partnership with Herro, Adebayo first said, “try to get out of his way.”
He added, “But our dual dynamic, it just works for me and Tyler. We read each other well. It’s working for us. So if it ain’t broke, don’t break it.”
3. Oladipo on cue: With Butler out, Oladipo stepped into the scoring void, closing with a season-high 23 points, at 7 of 15 from the field and 4 of 9 on 3-pointers, adding five rebounds and five assists.
But it was a dunk that got the 30-year-veteran most excited in this comeback from years of injuries.
“You know what’s funny is I haven’t dunked all year and it’s been bothering me real bad,” he said. “So I’m glad I got one. That was my first one of the year, so it’s pretty cool to do that.”
His previous scoring high this season was 14 points in the Dec. 20 home loss to the Chicago Bulls. He had scored 16 total points in his previous three appearances.
“I can score the basketball, man,” he said. “I’ve been scoring my whole life.”
4. Two down: With the Heat were without two starters, Highsmith opened for the second consecutive game at power forward in place of Martin, with Strus back in the starting lineup in place of Butler.
The Heat’s other starters were Adebayo, Herro and Lowry, who, at 36, played both ends of the back-to-back set but endured another uneven night.
Strus added 13 points, shooting 3 of 5 on 3-pointers.
Inactive for the Heat were Butler, Martin, Nikola Jovic (G League assignment), Dewayne Dedmon (health-and-safety protocols) and Omer Yurtsevn (ankle surgery).
5. Reunion time: The game was a reminder of the deal the Heat made at the 2021 NBA trading deadline that sent Kelly Olynyk and Avery Bradley to the Houston Rockets for Oladipo.
Olynyk has thrived this season with the Jazz after being acquired in the offseason from the Detroit Pistons.
Olynyk started for the Jazz, closing with 14 points, six assists and four rebounds.
“KO, he’s plug and play on any team,” Spoelstra said. “Literally, every team he’s played on, he helps your offense. He’s so skilled. He’s crafty. He’s clever. He’s good off the dribble, handoffs.”
That had Spoelstra reflecting on the Olynyk-Adebayo pairing that helped propel the Heat to the 2020 NBA Finals in the Disney quarantine bubble.
“All the stuff we like to do, he fit perfectly,” Spoelstra said. “And the combination of him and Bam, the skill level that we had was really unique.”