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Cavs pull away from Heat, 105-94

P.J. Tucker scored 23 points, one shy of his career high.

Miami Heat v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Miami Heat’s great 3-point shooting during their two feel-good wins over the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls last week without Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo didn’t travel to Cleveland for the first of Miami’s four-game road trip Monday night.

Despite a 10-0 run to open the second half to turn an 11-point halftime deficit into a one-point game, the Heat struggled to score against the Cleveland Cavaliers for the second time in two weeks. Miami shot just 13-of-40 from 3 Monday night while the Cavs knocked down 16 of 36 3s to come away with a 105-94 victory and leapfrog the Heat for the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.

I have to point out here that Kyle Lowry made a devastating move on Lauri Markkanen before nailing a 3 during that 10-0 run.

Unlike the Heat’s atrocious 26-point loss to the Cavaliers Dec. 1, Miami got off to a fine start Monday night. Neither team scored efficiently, but a first-quarter buzzer-beater from Tyler Herro gave Miami a two-point lead heading into the second.

The Heat even built a six-point lead early in the second before a Jarrett Allen-fueled run turned the game on its head. Cleveland built a 52-38 lead before two P.J. Tucker 3s to close the half brought the halftime deficit to a more-manageable 11 points.

But after Miami’s early third-quarter run, the Cavaliers built the lead right back up. Kevin Love, who went scoreless in the first half, dominated Miami in the second half to finished with 23 points, including five 3-pointers. His last 3-pointer — with guard Gabe Vincent defending him on a switch — gave Cleveland a 16-point lead with 5:10 left. Love made six 3s in these two teams’ meeting Dec. 1, and Miami failed to prevent the five-time All-Star from turning the clock back again.

For Miami, Tucker scored 23 points — one shy of his career high — to go along with nine rebounds and five assists. Tucker was everywhere for Miami, hitting corner 3s, grabbing offensive boards and rolling to the basket for floaters. He’s been such a revelation for the Heat this entire season. His teammates didn’t do enough to deliver a victory, but he did his job and then some.

Kyle Lowry also played well, knocking down four 3s and finishing with 22 points and five assists. But Miami’s other two players who need to play well for the Heat to win without Butler and Adebayo — Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro — had sub-par games.

Robinson, who broke Glen Rice’s Heat record and played in his 175th consecutive game Monday, shot just 1-for-7 from 3. On the plus side, Robinson made a no-look, behind-the-back assist during the Heat’s 10-0 run.

Herro shot just 6-for-15 from the field and didn’t make a 3. Erik Spoelstra also only played Herro 25 minutes. Another Heat wing, Max Strus, shot 0-for-4 from the field in his 16 minutes. To such a shorthanded degree that won’t cut it. (Aside from Butler and Adebayo, Caleb Martin and Markieff Morris remained out.)

The Heat will travel to Philadelphia to face the 76ers Wednesday night at 7 p.m.