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Heat crumble again in 4th, lose to Wolves 129-126

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Even Jimmy Butler’s return couldn’t stop the Heat slide.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Miami Heat Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Another night, another fourth quarter collapse. And even being at home didn’t make a difference for the cratering Miami Heat, who have now lost seven of their last nine games.

This time, the Heat held a 12-point lead with 4:39 seconds left against the 16-win Minnesota Timberwolves. A late surge from the Timberwolves led to two free throws from Jordan McLaughlin tying the game with 45 seconds left. On Miami’s ensuing possession, Bam Adebayo made just one of two free throws. (Side note — the Heat missed 10 free throws tonight.)

Both teams traded free throws again, but McLaughlin made a layup with eight seconds left to put Minnesota up by one. Without any timeouts, Jimmy Butler took the ball up-court and went straight to the basket — a good play, unlike his ill-advised 3-point attempt in Miami’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks last week. But Butler’s shot didn’t fall.

For much of the last two months, the Heat have looked like the team that fought for a bottom-tier playoff seed over the last three seasons — losing multiple games to teams bound for the lottery. And the injuries to Tyler Herro and Meyers Leonard shouldn’t affect the Heat’s ability to beat teams like the Hawks, Cavaliers and Timberwolves.

Butler returned from his two-game absence and scored 18 points on 4-of-10 shooting from the field and 10-for-11 shooting from the foul line. Butler also dished out nine assists, but committed four turnovers. Adebayo also committed four turnovers, with Miami as a whole turning the ball over 21 times.

Goran Dragic had three turnovers. That’s all three primary ball-handlers. They made passes in tight corners or put too much power on several passes that would’ve led to easy layups. Miami committed back-to-back turnovers during the Timberwolves’ late fourth-quarter surge.

Adebayo’s turnovers and other mistakes marred an otherwise good game. The third-year player scored 22 points on 6-of-13 shooting from the field and made a career-high 15 trips to the foul line. Adebayo also grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out seven assists. On the flip side, the All-Star missed two dunks and missed five of his attempts from the foul line.

If Heat fans have been underwhelmed with Andre Iguodala thus far, the three-time champion was a team-worst -13 in his 19 minutes of action Wednesday night. Iguodala hit two big fourth-quarter shots in the fourth quarter — including a nice corner 3 off a pass from Butler — but was also on the court during the Minnesota 10-0 run.

Jae Crowder also came crashing back to the Earth on his 3-point shooting, going just 1-for-7 from beyond the arc. But Crowder grabbed nine rebounds, and Miami needed those boards as Erik Spoelstra went small. Chris Silva didn’t get off the bench in Wednesday.

Kendrick Nunn led Miami with 24 points on 9-of-19 shooting from the field. He also dished out six assists. Derrick Jones Jr. added 14 points off the bench, including a couple acrobatic and-ones.

The Heat will host the Dallas Mavericks Friday at 7:30 p.m.