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Adebayo, Lowry struggle in season-opening loss to Bulls, 116-108

DeMar DeRozan scored 19 points in the third quarter.

Chicago Bulls v Miami Heat Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

After the Miami Heat fell to the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, many pointed to two players needing to do more — Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry. They are the Heat’s second- and third-highest paid players. Though injured, Lowry was abysmal. Adebayo only showed up intermittently.

The season opener of the Heat’s 35th season didn’t inspire any confidence.

Adebayo missed his first six field goals and never got on track. Many of Adebayo’s misses were shots in the paint he should make. He only out-scored Dewayne Dedmon 12 to 11. Dedmon played well enough, but it’s a problem when he provides more offense than Adebayo.

Lowry shot just 1-for-7 from the field. He was 0-for-5 from 3-point range, and it was easy to forget he was on the court. Goran Dragic, whom the Heat traded for Lowry in 2021, played better than the 2019 NBA champion.

The Chicago Bulls took control during a dominant third quarter that saw DeMar DeRozan score 19 points, at times toying with whatever semblance of defense Miami tried to put up.

A cold start to the fourth for the Bulls gave the Heat a chance, and a 3-pointer by Max Strus cut what was once a 15-point deficit to four. Strus was a part of the crunch-time five, replacing Caleb Martin. He finished with 22 points, including five 3-pointers.

But the Heat never got closer, as missed free throws and turnovers squandered whatever opportunities Miami had left to retake control of the game. DeRozan nailed a 3-pointer with 3:23 left to make it a 112-101 game. It was over.

Miami’s season opener started well, with Tyler Herro knocking down 3s and Jimmy Butler starting a parade to the foul line. The Heat built a nine-point lead early and led the way from the opening tip to just before halftime. Herro showed the offensive versatility he brings to the starting unit.

But even in the first half, the Heat lead wasn’t as strong as it should’ve been because Adebayo and Lowry didn’t provide any offensive firepower. And Miami’s defense wilted in the third quarter, giving Bulls open lanes to the basket for dunks and layups.

Butler led the Heat with 24 points on 5-of-11 shooting and 14-of-16 shooting from the foul line. Butler also grabbed eight rebounds, a good sign considering the Heat never replaced P.J. Tucker.

Herro added 23 points on 8-of-15 shooting, but he cooled off in the second half.

It appeared that Duncan Robinson got some minutes thanks to Victor Oladipo’s absence. He subbed in for Herro during both the first and third quarters. And Robinson made a 3-pointer and then later drove to the basket for a nice bank shot.

The Heat will look to bounce back Friday night when they host the Boston Celtics at 7:30 p.m.