In a wild game between two depleted teams, the Miami Heat had a slim chance to win late in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers. With 30 seconds left to go, Bam Adebayo made a running layup to pull Miami to within 108-102. After the Clippers in-bounded the ball, Heat defenders surrounded Marcus Morris. Reggie Jackson called time-out — only the Clippers had no timeouts left.
The L.A. Clippers thus committed a technical foul and a turnover. Tyler Herro made the free throw, and Adebayo made a dunk. Suddenly, Miami was down just 108-105 with 21.5 seconds to go. And after an intentional Heat foul, Jackson made just one of two free throws at the line. Miami needed some luck, but still had a chance.
But Thursday night, no such luck materialized. Herro missed a 3. Kendrick Nunn grabbed the offensive rebound and attempted a corner 3. That also missed. Bam Adebayo grabbed the rebound and threw up a 3-point attempt of his own. By then, precious seconds had ticked off the clock. In any case, Adebayo’s shot missed. The Heat dropped their fifth straight game and fell to 6-12 on the season.
This loss was disappointing because of how similar it was to previous Heat losses. A Clippers team without Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Patrick Beverley dominated Miami in the second and third quarters. At one point, the Clippers went on a 20-2 run to build a 19-point lead.
Miami’s effort and decision-making was sorely lacking for extended stretches — inexcusable for a team that desperately needed to win this game. To take but one example, with 15.3 seconds left in the third quarter, Herro threw the ball away on an in-bounds pass after a Clippers made basket. With just 0.8 seconds left in the period, Gabe Vincent foolishly fouled Terance Mann on a 3-point attempt. He made all three free throws.
Yes, the Heat didn’t have Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic, Avery Bradley and Andre Iguodala. But Miami had just eight available players — including being without both Butler and Adebayo — in the Heat’s two games against the Philadelphia 76ers earlier this month. And the Heat played spirited basketball in the first of those two match-ups. Regardless of the injury situation, Miami should be playing better basketball than this. Period.
Adebayo had his second consecutive off game Thursday night, going just 6-of-16 from the field. In a strange stretch earlier in the fourth, Adebayo didn’t touch the ball or set screens for the ball-handler for multiple crucial possessions. KZ Okpala went against Morris one-on-one twice to mixed results, but the only All-Star on the floor didn’t get involved at all.
Precious Achiuwa, meanwhile, went 4-for-4 from the field. He was a big part of a nice Heat rally to open the fourth quarter.
Herro played for the first time in seven games, returning from neck spasms, and scored 19 points on 8-of-21 shooting from the field. He went just 1-for-6 from beyond in the arc, continuing his bad long-distance shooting to start the season. But otherwise, Herro made some nice drives to the basket that were sorely missed.
The Heat will host the Sacramento Kings on Saturday.