Things did not look good for the Miami Heat for much of their Monday night game against the Sacramento Kings. Without Jimmy Butler, the Heat committed 21 turnovers, and the Kings diced up Miami’s zone defense for countless easy scores. Sacramento held a six-point lead with 82 seconds left in regulation.
James Johnson made a 3-pointer. On Miami’s next possession, Duncan Robinson made one to tie the game. But Miami still had work to do. A layup from Nemanja Bjelica gave Sacramento a two-point lead with just under two seconds left.
After Erik Spoelstra called a timeout, Goran Dragic threw up a lob pass for Bam Adebayo, who tied the game.
And in overtime, the Kings had one last chance to win it after Robinson threw a bad in-bounds pass that Buddy Hield stole. But Johnson rose up for a crucial block.
The Heat escaped with an 118-113 victory to improve to 30-13 on the season. Somehow, the Heat defeated a team that took 23 more shots than them — that disparity due to the Miami turnovers and second-chance shots from Sacramento.
Johnson scored 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the field and 4-of-5 from downtown. He also grabbed six rebounds and dished out three assists — needed production with Butler sitting the game out with hip soreness. And late in the fourth quarter, Spoelstra subbed Johnson for Kelly Olynyk for some more mobility defensively. It worked. After a rough start to the season, Johnson has made himself invaluable.
After a quiet start, Bam Adebayo finished with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting, 11 rebounds and five assists. Adebayo’s game-tying layup was huge — it actually may draw comparisons to the LeBron James-to-Dwyane Wade layup against the Minnesota Timberwolves from 2011 — but the third-year player also made a huge alley-oop off a Kendrick Nunn pass earlier.
Nunn scored a team-high 25 points, but committed six turnovers. Nunn engaged in a lot of dribbling during several possessions that led to either a turnover or a bad shot. With Butler out, Miami should use Dragic or Johnson as the primary ball-handler. And to his credit, Nunn made numerous baskets when the Heat needed him to, including a 3-pointer with 1:55 left in overtime to put Miami up for good.
Spoelstra stayed in the zone throughout the game, even after the Kings executed simple passes to Bjelica in the middle of the floor for open shots. (Miami made an adjustment to have Johnson play more of that area late in the fourth quarter.) And Sacramento grabbed 16 offensive rebounds — a downside of the zone is that it’s harder to block out players. But the Heat managed to win the game even in the zone.
Dragic scored 18 points off the bench on 7-of-16 shooting. Tyler Herro, who turned 20 on Monday, scored six points on two 3-pointers in 17 minutes of action. But Herro still looked less than 100 percent after right knee soreness kept him out of two games last week.
The Heat will face the Washington Wizards Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.