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Late defense, Herro’s heroics get Miami a much-needed win

Miami squandered a big lead, but they also buckled down and secured the gritty road win.

NBA: Miami Heat at Oklahoma City Thunder Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat earned a tough road win against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night. It was harder than it should have been because of Miami’s own lackadaisical tendencies when they built a significant lead, but a victory they needed nonetheless.

Defeating a Thunder squad on an evening they shot the ball well from deep was essential with an upcoming second night of a back-to-back game in Houston in the middle of a soft stretch of their schedule as they attempt to rise in the Eastern Conference standings.

Playing without Jimmy Butler, it was Tyler Herro who led the way with a season-high 35 points capped off by another game-winner against a Western Conference opponent. The former Wildcat knocked in a career-high 9 three-pointers, and Miami as a team converted 24, including a franchise-setting 16 in the first half.

But OKC rallied in the third period and had momentum going their way in the last minutes of the final frame. A late Miami fightback, predicated on opportunistic offense and classic hard-nosed defense, allowed the more experienced Heat to leave the arena with the win and a 14-15 record.

Here’s how the final possessions went down:

Aside from Herro, Victor Oladipo also deserves praise for how he performed. It was clearly his best outing of the season which came in handy as Miami was without its best player.

Duncan Robinson, back in the rotation, had his moments as well, finishing with 14 points on 4-of-8 shooting from deep. He, Dewayne Dedmon, and Haywood Highsmith all registered a +14 when they were on the court, while all the starters with the exception of Herro had a negative point differential.

It was one of those rare times where the statistics show that the bench aided the starters as opposed to the other way around.

It’s unclear yet who Miami will line-up in Houston. Bam Adebayo, hounded by foul trouble, turnovers, and a hobbled knee, didn’t have an overall great performance. Perhaps the rest could help him out. It’s wise to guess Oladipo, recently returned from his own knee issue, will also sit out. Maybe Kyle Lowry would too for maintenance.

It’s been a roller-coaster ride for Miami, who isn’t out of the woods at all. But victories such as the one they pulled off in OKC can help in getting them to a grounded position.