The Miami Heat held a 19-point lead at halftime against the Washington Wizards. The Wizards went on a 26-6 run to open the third quarter. Frustrated with the lackadaisical play from his starters, Erik Spoelstra pulled the Gregg Popovich-like move of subbing in five new players to send a message to his team.
The bench players did their job, building a new lead that crested at 10 twice in the fourth quarter. But three straight baskets from Bradley Beal — sandwiched between ill-advised 3-point attempts from Jimmy Butler and James Johnson — gave the Wizards a 3-point lead.
With just under 36 seconds left, Tyler Herro found an open Johnson in the corner for a 3. This time, the 6-foot-8 forward nailed the shot to tie the game.
JJ sending us to our 8th OT game of the season! pic.twitter.com/ssnwudeld4— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) January 23, 2020
And in overtime, the Heat did what they’ve done the seven previous times they’ve needed an extra period. Miami scored the first five points of the overtime period — Butler free throws and a 3-pointer from Tyler Herro — and held on to win 134-129. The Heat improved to 31-13 on the season.
After seeing the Wizards charge back in the third quarter, Miami’s bench players responded with more energy. Miami especially needed the offensive output of Herro, who knocked down seven 3-pointers, a Heat rookie record. The only basket Miami’s starters in the third quarter made was a Duncan Robinson 3.
Goran Dragic scored 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field to go along with 10 assists and six rebounds. Miami’s starters were sloppy to open the third quarter, with possessions leading to off-balance shots from Meyers Leonard or turnovers. Dragic’s presence helped catalyze the Heat offense for the rest of the third.
In addition to his clutch 3 — Johnson has actually re-emerged as a good 3-point shooter since returning to the rotation — the Heat forward offered the energy on both ends of the floor that he provided during Miami’s 30-11 run in 2017. And Johnson had a huge block on Ian Mahinmi in the last minute of regulation, as well.
JJ's sequence early in the second quarter:— Joseph Beguiristain (@JoeBeguiristain) January 23, 2020
Assist to Herro for three. pic.twitter.com/Oc6w9ECWPY
Miami even got some help from Kelly Olynyk, who scored 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field. In addition to drilling two 3s, Olynyk even surprised his own teammates when he rose for a put-back slam in the second quarter. Just like Johnson, Olynyk has been out of the rotation at times this season. Wednesday night, they both offered positive contributions.
As for Miami’s starters, Spoelstra only used Butler and Bam Adebayo for heavy minutes after the third-quarter hook. (He also played Kendrick Nunn, albeit for not as much time.) Butler scored 24 points, dished out 10 assists and grabbed seven boards on the night.
He also went 16-for-18 from the foul line — a good portion of Miami’s offense in the overtime consisted of Butler drawing fouls. Although Butler took that ill-advised 3 late in the fourth quarter, he adjusted for the rest of the game — he went to the basket and drew contact instead of settling for jump shots.
The Heat will host the Los Angeles Clippers Friday night at 8 p.m.