The Miami Heat looked to be in trouble at halftime Monday night against the New York Knicks. Miami had mustered just 36 points through the first two quarters and faced a seven-point deficit. Not exactly ideal for a team desperate to snap a six-game losing streak.
Reminiscent of his play during the Heat’s stretch of 11 wins in 12 games, Jimmy Butler took control in the third quarter. He drove to the basket and made pull-up jumpers. He made a couple scoops with his left hand. Butler even picked up a technical foul for jawing with RJ Barrett. No matter.
When Butler took a breather with 1:58 left to go in the period, Miami had a 64-60 lead. Duncan Robinson, Andre Iguodala and Gabe Vincent each hit a 3 in the final minute of the period, powering the Heat to an 11-point advantage heading into the fourth. For Iguodala’s 3, he “walked the dog” — let the ball roll up court to avoid time ticking off — and promptly made his long-distance shot. Moments later, he bothered Julius Randle into a traveling violation.
And in the fourth, Bam Adebayo made two straight baskets to extend the Heat lead to 15. Moments later, Vincent came up with a steal and subsequent put-back. With 2:36 left to play, Iguodala stole the ball from Randle, igniting a fast break. Herro tossed Butler a lob for an alley-oop.
finishing touches here in the Garden pic.twitter.com/3ZEISpzRvc— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) March 30, 2021
The Heat held on to win 98-88 and snap a six-game slip — Miami’s longest losing streak since the 2016-17 season. Coming into the game as the eighth seed after standing at fourth two weeks ago, this was much-needed.
Butler scored 15 of his 27 points in that third quarter, finishing on 10-of-15 shooting from the field and 7-of-8 from the foul line. Butler also collected five rebounds and six assists in his 34 minutes. Throughout the game, Butler delivered exactly what Miami needed — light-hearted joking with his teammates during breaks, intensity on the court.
Adebayo added 20 points on 9-of-17 shooting from the field and an amazing 18 rebounds. He hit his jumper and made several nice rim-runs to the basket.
Not a shot you're going to see Bam take too often this early in the clock, but he did it twice in a row. pic.twitter.com/pdcvd612Y2— Couper Moorhead (@CoupNBA) March 30, 2021
Adebayo also took on the challenge of defending Randle and did an admirable job, coming up with two blocks on the night.
As for Adebayo’s backup, rookie Precious Achiuwa, he picked up five fouls in just 11 minutes of action. During Adebayo’s periods of rests, it was a question of whether the Heat could simply survive. After LaMarcus Aldridge signed with the Brooklyn Nets, the Heat might want to find another backup big. Nemanja Bjelica just played one five-minute stint in the first half.
Herro and Robinson each shot 4-of-9 from beyond the arc, good contributions for two players who have seen their 3-point shooting dip this season. Goran Dragic returned tonight from a four-game absence, but did not look like himself and struggled. Victor Oladipo remained in Miami with a head cold, and Kendrick Nunn sat out the game with a sprained ankle.
The Heat will face the Indiana Pacers, Oladipo’s former team, Wednesday night.