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Heat rally falls short in 110-108 loss to Hawks

Butler had two opportunities to take the lead for the Heat but fell short.

NBA: Miami Heat at Atlanta Hawks Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

An exhilarating rally fell just short of a memorable road victory, as Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat ran a perfectly executed play that could have been the game winner against the host Atlanta Hawks. Instead, Butler’s close shot rolled off the rim and the Hawks held on for the 110-108 victory Friday night.

Miami only held a brief lead seconds into the game but Atlanta controlled most of the game until they nearly fell apart in the final six minutes. Duncan Robinson scored 12 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, including a big 3-pointer that had them within six points with three minutes remaining and another that trimmed the lead to just one point with less than a minute remaining.

Young’s two free throws gave Atlanta their biggest lead of the night at 18 points near the end of the third quarter, but Miami showed resilience to get so frustratingly close to stealing the win. Unfortunately the Heat ran out of time with the margin of error so razor thin and every play needing to be executed perfectly. After two Butler free throws and Robinson’s 3 cut the deficit to one point, Butler curled off a screen at the top of the key and seemingly had the easy alley-oop basket that didn’t go in. Young split a pair of free throws, giving the Heat another opportunity to tie it or take the lead but the play went nowhere fast, ending with Butler missing a difficult 3-point shot attempt in the corner and Max Strus missing a fallaway putback jumper.

Even though they were outscored 34-22 in the final quarter, Atlanta held on to secure their third straight home victory and avoided losing to Miami for the third time in less than two weeks. Young scored 28 points and went 12-15 from the free throw line — earning more free throw attempts than the Heat as a team.

Kyle Lowry and Tyler Herro both were unavailable and PJ Tucker injured his left knee in the first quarter and did not return to the game.

Adebayo had another strong game, leading his team with 21 points while also grabbing six rebounds and dishing five assists. Max Strus scored 15 points off the bench, all in the first half. Butler contributed 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in 36 minutes. Gabe Vincent started once again and scored 14 points and had nine assists.

The loss drops the Heat to third in the East, just percentage points behind the Chicago Bulls, who lost to the Milwaukee Bucks tonight. Both teams are now half a game behind the Brooklyn Nets.

Miami returns home to host the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday at 6:00pm on NBA TV.