With a minute and 43 seconds left in the Miami Heat’s game against the Detroit Pistons, Wayne Ellington hit his sixth 3-pointer of the night. The former Heat player pulled Detroit to within 106-103. Although Miami had briefly taken a 12-point lead early in the fourth, the Heat would need to stave off a late Pistons rally to snap their three-game losing streak.
With 45.7 seconds left, Goran Dragic hit a bank-shot jumper over Mason Plumlee to give the Heat a five-point lead. The Pistons called a timeout. On Detroit’s ensuing possession, Bam Adebayo switched onto Jerami Grant on a pick-and-roll. He drove to the basket, but Adebayo swatted his shot.
Duncan Robinson grabbed the rebound, and Dragic and Adebayo made three of four free throws to ice the game. Miami came away with a much-needed 113-107 win to improve to 5-7 on the season.
Miami again played without Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro and Avery Bradley. Adebayo played like a franchise player Monday night, going 9-for-15 from the field and 10-of-11 from the foul line for 28 points. He put on a clinic with an array of mid-range jumpers that should make any Heat fan salivate. Adebayo also grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out five assists.
Like Adebayo, Dragic also shot 9-of-15 from the field — and four of his misses came from beyond the arc. Dragic entered the starting lineup for the first time this season and made numerous tough shots to keep Miami’s offense flowing. On a night without Butler and Herro, Miami needs Dragic to play well offensively. He did tonight.
Goran Dragic shot 50.5 percent from 2pt last season, which was up from his previous three seasons in Miami. Including tonight he's at 62 percent this year, hitting some incredibly tough shots. pic.twitter.com/fePbHDdfhN— Couper Moorhead (@CoupNBA) January 19, 2021
Dragic’s insertion into the starting lineup wasn’t the only new wrinkle to the rotation. Erik Spoelstra turned to Kendrick Nunn and Moe Harkless for extended minutes, and (believe me) it worked. Nunn suddenly had his mid-range jumper looking smooth again, as he shot 8-of-15 from the field to score 18 points off the bench. And Harkless made numerous deflections on defense, including one late in the fourth quarter when the Pistons were only down three.
This was a big play by Moe with Detroit having the potential to tie the game. pic.twitter.com/7RrhgkIvet— Joseph Beguiristain (@JoeBeguiristain) January 19, 2021
KZ Okpala again got the starting nod, but he picked up two early fouls in the first quarter. Harkless only made one field goal, a 3-pointer, but Harkless played great defensively. Monday marked the first night all season that Harkless and Nunn have provided productive minutes for Miami.
Miami’s last two 3-point specialists — Robinson and Ellington — went back-and-forth throughout the game. Ellington finished 7-of-11 from 3, while Robinson was 6-of-9. Robinson’s last 3 was a big one that put Miami up seven with around five minutes left in the fourth quarter. But Robinson continued to show his growing versatility, including a nice alley-oop pass to Adebayo.
This is not a play Duncan Robinson would have made one year ago. pic.twitter.com/yfnrPvZUao— Couper Moorhead (@CoupNBA) January 19, 2021
Although Miami came away with the win, this team still has a long way to go. Detroit raced out to a 19-point lead in the first quarter, inexcusable considering that same Pistons team just beat the Heat by 20 points. And in the fourth quarter, Miami committed a maddening eight turnovers to give Detroit more chances to get back in the game.
But hey, the Heat needed the win, and they got it.