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Heat falter in fourth, lose to T-Wolves

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Andrew Wiggins made three big fourth-quarter 3s.

Miami Heat v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The Miami Heat and Minnesota Timberwolves were deadlocked at 101 with just over three minutes left. And then Andrew Wiggins — the former hyped prospect who has fallen short of expectations — made three consecutive 3-pointers that went without a Heat answer.

And that was how the Miami Heat lost their first game of the season, 116-109. The Heat will travel back to Miami for their Tuesday night game against the Atlanta Hawks with a 2-1 record.

The Heat also committed 21 turnovers, with numerous bad passes that led to Minnesota fast-break points. Those turnovers factored into a poor Miami fourth quarter after two games with strong final periods — the Timberwolves out-scored the Heat 39-25 in the fourth.

Of course, the Heat executed the sign-and-trade for Jimmy Butler for the Heat to have a go-to scorer down the stretch. Butler missed the game after the birth of his daughter. Miami was also without Derrick Jones Jr., who left the Heat’s Saturday win over the Milwaukee Bucks with a groin strain.

On the plus side, Miami’s best players delivered — Kendrick Nunn scored 25 points, including five 3-pointers (Nunn, though, had no points in the fourth quarter). The way Nunn has played in his first three NBA games makes it hard to believe he went undrafted. He made great offensive plays.

Justise Winslow scored 20 points on 8-of-17 shooting from the field, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out six assists. Winslow has improved his shooting touch, but he still has some ways to go.

Goran Dragic scored 13 points off the bench for Miami and again directed the Heat offense with the team’s second unit. He found a favorable match-up against former Miami draft pick Shabazz Napier, who has bounced around the NBA since his rookie year with the Heat in 2014-15. He has seamlessly turned himself into a great sixth man for the Heat.

The Heat also got a good night from Bam Adebayo, who played some spectacular defense on Karl-Anthony Towns. Towns finished the night with an 8-of-21 shooting performance and was not a factor when Adebayo guarded him. Adebayo had an active offensive third quarter and put in 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field to go along with nine rebounds, five assists and three blocks. On one possession, he took the ball up court and found Duncan Robinson for a 3-pointer.

On the flip side, Adebayo made just one of his five attempts from the foul line, including an empty trip to the foul line during the fourth quarter. The former Kentucky player’s passing, ball-handling and athleticism are all pluses over Hassan Whiteside. But Adebayo shouldn’t shoot free throws like his former teammates.

Robinson put in his best NBA game Sunday night, scoring a career-high 21 points off the bench. He made four 3-pointers, but Robinson also made some smart cuts to the basket in the game. And Miami needed the second-year forward to play well with Jones being out.

Two others who could’ve given Miami something, but didn’t? Kelly Olynyk and Meyers Leonard. Both were non-factors. Although Kendrick Nunn has made it hard for Dion Waiters to find playing time, James Johnson could get a rotation spot due to the lack of production from Olynyk and Leonard.

Chris Silva, who is on a two-way contract with the Heat, put in 11 productive minutes for Miami. On one possession, Silva hustled for a loose ball off of an offensive rebound. The Heat called a timeout, and Silva didn’t even give the ball up after play stopped. He clearly looks the part of the team’s next Udonis Haslem.