It wasn't pretty, but the Miami Heat retook the top spot in the Eastern Conference entering the All-Star break with a gritty 111-107 double overtime victory against the host Charlotte Hornets on Thursday night.
On a night that Jimmy Butler struggled mightily from the field and Tyler Herro was again held out with a sore knee, it was Kyle Lowry who stepped up with 25 points on 9-16 field goal shooting and 6-11 3-pt field goal shooting, as well as nine rebounds and five assists — including 12 points during overtime in arguably his finest performance in a Heat jersey thus far.
25 points total, 12 in OT for QB1. In Lowry we trust. pic.twitter.com/6SBqb56DKS— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) February 18, 2022
A 16-5 run in the final five minutes of the game forced overtime, but whether it was a combination of good defense or just awful shooting — or both — the final score remained low despite two extra overtime periods which should tell you something about both teams. Though each shot 40% from the field, Miami went 14-48 (29.2%) from beyond the arc while Charlotte was even worse with 10-42 (23.8%). Though Lowry and Duncan Robinson combined for 12-24 in 3-pointers, Butler saved the best for last by sinking his only 3-pointer in the second overtime to help seal the win after seven misses from long range.
The most important Jimmy bucket of the night pic.twitter.com/vEIBbW6RLN— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) February 18, 2022
The best play of the game however was this beauty of a play designed to perfection by Erik Spoelstra and his coaching staff.
All five of Miami’s starters finished in double-figure scoring, but there were limited in their bench without Herro, Caleb Martin and Dewyane Dedmon, and as a result Charlotte’s reserves outscored their counterparts 42-20 for the night. Omer Yurtseven once again stepped up when called upon to action — a sort of human “break glass in case of emergency” when the team’s frontcourt is hobbled — to score 10 points on an efficient 5-6 shooting while grabbing six rebounds in 14 minutes.
LaMelo Ball, set to make his All-Star Game debut this week, notched a triple-double with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists but dealt his team a blow by fouling out in the second overtime period. Miles Bridges stepped up to keep his team within striking distance to the very end, finishing with 29 points (including a deep three in 2OT) and 11 rebounds. Newly acquired forward Montrezl Harrell came off the bench for an impressive 24 points and eight rebounds in 43 minutes, but missed a golden opportunity to win the game in the first overtime when he missed his second free throw.
Despite limited in available players, the Heat started the game encouragingly enough with 37 points in the first quarter but then threw that down the drain by scoring just 10 points in the second. Thankfully the late rally and subsequent heroics from Lowry along with timely buckets from Robinson, Butler and Adebayo helped the Heat enter their well-deserved break on a positive note as they look ahead to holding on to the top seed entering the postseason.
Miami won’t play again for another eight days when they face the New York Knicks on Friday, February 25 at 7:00pm. They will be represented by Butler and coach Spoelstra at the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday at 7:00pm on TNT.