The Miami Heat (34-17) dropped its second straight game, in the midst of a six-game road trip, against the Sacramento Kings (20-31) 105-97 on Friday night. The Heat had difficulty defeating the Kings the first time the two teams met, having to go into overtime to usurp the Kings, and this time, the Heat were without many key players.
Forward Jimmy Butler missed the game with a shoulder injury, while guard Tyler Herro and center Meyers Leonard remained out. Two-way contract player Kyle Alexander was also out with an injury, despite being with the team on the trip. The recently-acquired trio of Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill all missed the game as they just joined the team, in a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies, where the Heat sent out Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters and James Johnson.
This meant the Heat was left with a bench lineup consisting of Goran Dragic, KZ Okpala, Chris Silva and two-way player Gabe Vincent.
One game after letting up a franchise-record 23 3-pointers to the Los Angeles Clippers, the Heat allowed 19 3-pointers to the Kings, at a ridiculous 43% rate. Bogdan Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield and Nemanja Bjelica combined for 16 of those shots made from deep.
The fact that the Kings and Clippers have combined for 42 3-pointers in just two games shows just how badly the Heat needed the trade that brought Iguodala, Crowder and Hill to the team. The trio are all strong perimeter defenders, though this is when all three are playing to their very best. The Heat is hoping that all three will be available to play in the next game to help give the team much needed depth.
The Heat also recently broke the franchise record for least amount of turnovers in a game, with just three against the Philadelphia 76ers, but had 20 tonight, allowing 31 points off of said turnovers. While the Kings had 14 turnovers themselves, the Heat only managed to muster 11 points off of those turnovers.
Forward Derrick Jones Jr. had a career-high 14 free throw attempts, making nine, but finished with no made shots from the floor one game after posting his career-high in points.
The scoring load was left primarily to Bam Adebayo in the game, scoring 26 points, while adding seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks. However, the recently-named All-Star had five turnovers and three fouls in the game.
The guard play in the game was lackluster as well, with Kendrick Nunn scoring ten points in the third quarter to help bring the game within striking distance, but shot a poor 32% from the floor and 20% from 3-point range. Meanwhile, Dragic finished with a wildly bad seven turnovers, furthering the sloppy trend of the game.
Duncan Robinson finished with a nice six-of-nine 3-pointers, ending up with 18 points, six assists, five rebounds and a block, but it was not enough to cut a dent in the long-lasting deficit. While Robinson saw a strong offensive performance, his defense was again exposed, and he finished with four turnovers and three fouls.
Okpala made just his second Heat appearance, and first with extended playing time, and finished with seven points, four rebounds, a pair of steals, an assist and a block on 60% shooting. While Okpala will likely lose playing time as more and more wings return from injury, it is encouraging to see this kind of gameplay from the rookie.
Bogdanovic and the recently-acquired Kent Bazemore of the Kings tortured the Heat on the defensive end, accounting for five combined steals, and boasting two of the three highest net ratings on the team.
Miami was just down two points at the halfway point, 52-50, but was outscored 31-26 in the third quarter, and allowed the Kings to go on a fourth quarter run sparked by an onslaught on 3-pointers, that pushed the game out of the Heat’s reach.
The loss pushes the Heat further down the Eastern Conference standings, being as close to being the sixth seed as it is being the formerly-held second seed. The Toronto Raptors on the other hand, won their 13th straight game to give them some slight security in the second seed spot, a spot that Miami will try to reclaim over its next few games.
Next up, the Heat will take on the Portland Trail Blazers to continue its road trip, and the first half of a back-to-back before the team returns to California to take on the Golden State Warriors on Monday, Feb. 10. The Heat defeated the Blazers earlier in the season, by a score of 122-111, and will look to get back on track with a victory. The game between the Heat and Blazers will tip-off at 9 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 9, with coverage by Hot Hot Hoops all game long.