Shortly before tipoff, Erik Spoelstra announced that both Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo would miss Monday night’s game at the Oklahoma City Thunder. (Markieff Morris remained out.) The first half saw both teams commit puzzling turnovers and miss plenty of shots. It was tough to watch.
The halftime score was 43-43. That changed in the second half.
Duncan Robinson made three 3s in the opening three minutes of the third quarter to open up a nine-point Miami Heat lead. The Heat played good defense and forced Thunder turnovers — either from steals or drawn charges. A Max Strus layup with 3:10 left in the third gave Miami a 70-56 lead.
Duncan coming alive with 11 points in this quarter pic.twitter.com/yfRvEUF6RI— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) November 16, 2021
Oklahoma City made a mini-run to cut the deficit to seven entering the final period. To open the fourth, Tyler Herro scored nine straight points to keep the Thunder at bay. The last shot came with him having nowhere to go 21 feet from the basket with the shot clock running down.
Miami’s lead crested at 18, but the Thunder cut the deficit to eight with 2:36 remaining. On the other end of the floor, P.J. Tucker made a crucial corner 3 to push the lead back to 11. And after Shai Gilgeous-Alexander missed a 3, Herro found Robinson for another 3 to make it a 101-87 lead with 1:18 left — an opportunity Miami had because Spoelstra successfully challenged an out-of-bounds call.
The Heat held on for a 103-90 win to close their road trip with a 2-3 record. Herro finished the night with a team-high 26 points on 9-of-18 shooting from the field. In the first half, Herro’s four 3s kept Miami in the game. And his scoring binge in the fourth protected the Heat’s lead.
KZ Okpala, who didn't play in Miami’s previous two games without Butler, was the surprise contributor Monday night. Omer Yurtseven was the first reserve off the bench, but Kyle Lowry grew visibly frustrated with a missed lob catch and a moving screen violation. Yurtseven didn’t play again until the closing minutes.
Okpala was effective as a small-ball 5, making a dribble hand-offs to keep Miami’s offense moving. The third-year pro made nice dunk off an offensive rebound and scored on a short hook shot. Okpala finished with eight points and seven rebounds in 15 minutes.
KZ Okpala (still) on fire. Now up to 8 points.— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) November 16, 2021
Aside from his five 3-pointers, Robinson actually made three two-point shots. When he’s hitting the 3, Robinson has more space to make cuts to the basket or drive to the rim. Now after two good games, can we say Robinson is officially out of his slump?
Lowry finished with 11 points and 11 assists on the night. On a night without Butler and Adebayo, Lowry should have looked for his shot more — especially in that dreadful first half. But he was better in the third, making a turnaround 15-footer and finding players for high-percentage shots.
The Heat will host the New Orleans Pelicans Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.