Similar to recent games, the Miami Heat saw the bottom fall out in the third quarter Wednesday night against the Washington Wizards. After going up briefly by 21 points early in the period, the Wizards stormed back and cut the lead to three entering the fourth quarter. Miami was in danger of suffering a fifth straight loss.
Washington even briefly took the lead in the fourth, after Kyle Kuzma found the seams in the Miami zone defense. (Kuzma, though, shot just 2-for-13 from 3-point range.) Fortunately for the Heat, Tyler Herro bailed them out. Herro, who returned after missing Miami’s previous eight games, made back-to-back 3s to put the Heat up 107-101 with 3:29 left to go.
Tyler's 5th triple of the night. Clutch pic.twitter.com/d7YV0Sc8Q8— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) November 24, 2022
With 1:16 left and the Heat up 109-105, the referees whistled Bam Adebayo for his fifth foul. Kristaps Porzingis was about to go to the free throw line when Erik Spoelstra challenged the call. The referees deemed the challenge successful, and Adebayo beat Porzingis on the ensuing jump-ball.
Caleb Martin grabbed an offensive board off a Herro miss and quickly scored to put Miami up 111-105 with 50.9 seconds left. The Heat held on to win 113-105 and snap their disappointing four-game losing streak.
Yes, the Heat won. But it’s tough to feel good about this win. Miami showed a complete lack of killer instinct in the third period, letting Washington back into the game with porous defense and frustrating turnovers. Wes Unseld Jr. even dusted off Taj Gibson from the bench to easily make a few baskets in the middle of the zone.
Kyle Lowry played a great first half, scoring a career-high 24 points before intermission. But he committed both his fourth and fifth fouls in the third quarter. And Adebayo struggled mightily on the offensive end of the floor, going just 5-for-15 from the field and frequently losing the ball. It’s a problem when Dewayne Dedmon has just two fewer field goals than Adebayo.
Adebayo and Lowry are both making big money. When Jimmy Butler is out, that means Adebayo needs to be a two-way player — not just a defensive stalwart — and Lowry cannot afford a huge drop-off from one half to the next.
Moreover, Herro didn’t get going until the fourth quarter. He showed a lot of rust for much of the game. In addition to the late 3s from Herro, Caleb Martin made four 3-pointers and finished with 24 points on the night.
The Heat appeared to get tight when the Wizards stormed back into the game, and bail-out 3s from Martin and Herro saved the game from turning into another calamity. That’s not something to celebrate.
Nikola Jovic started again, but he played just 12 minutes. Spoelstra again had a quick hook with him, preferring to go with Haywood Highsmith or Jamal Cain. And on the plus side, both Highsmith and Cain were active on the glass. Highsmith even made a big 3 in the fourth quarter.
The Heat will be off for Thanksgiving before hosting the Wizards again on Friday.