The Miami Heat played a solid first half against the Dallas Mavericks. The Heat doubled Luka Doncic, forcing him to give up the ball. Bam Adebayo and Omer Yurtseven (Dewayne Dedmon missed the game with back spasms) feasted inside the paint. Miami built a 13-point lead and went into halftime up 59-51.
In the second half, the Mavericks flipped the script.
Dallas took control of the game with a late third-quarter run and never looked back, defeating the Heat and snapping their five-game win streak. The Mavericks got hot from beyond the arc, while Miami made just one 3-pointer the entire second half (yes, you read that correctly). Even when a Maverick missed a shot, Dallas offensive rebounds were deflating for the Heat.
Perhaps Miami’s best chance to tie the game came with just inside three minutes left with the Mavericks up 101-96. Dallas had just successfully challenged a foul call that would have put Bam Adebayo at the line, although replays showed Maxi Kleber made contact with Adebayo. But the Heat won the jump-ball.
Butler, who has been a poor 3-point shooter with Miami, attempted a 3 that missed. Doncic missed a 3 on the other end, so the Heat were still down six with just inside two minutes left. This time, Butler drove to the basket. But that shot missed, too. Jalen Brunson knocked down a 3 on the other end, and Dallas went up 104-95 with 1:49 left.
Despite those late misses, Butler was the Heat’s best player tonight. When Miami’s offense went in the mud during the third quarter, the six-time All-Star promptly earned two straight trips to the foul line. Butler also kept the Heat within striking distance in the fourth. He finished with 29 points on 8-of-18 shooting from the field and 13-of-14 shooting from the foul line, 10 rebounds and three assists. Ultimately, Butler needed more help.
Adebayo added 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Heat, but two of his field goals came in the final 100 seconds of the game and the game was essentially decided. While the Heat center looked for his shot in the first half, he didn’t do so in the second. On the other end, Adebayo often found himself guard Doncic and offered his usual top-notch defense.
P.J. Tucker was the first player to get the Doncic assignment, but he picked up two fouls in the first quarter. Miami’s first substitute off the bench was Haywood Highsmith, who just signed a 10-day contract with the Heat. (Aside from Dedmon, Caleb Martin and Tyler Herro also missed this game.) Highsmith knocked down two corner 3s in his first stint.
Tuesday marked Miami’s first loss since Kyle Lowry returned from his nine-game absence earlier this month. Lowry scored 13 and he was the only Heat player to hit more than one 3 on the night.
The Heat will visit the Charlotte Hornets Thursday night at 7 p.m. in their final game before the All-Star break.