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Heat hold off late Spurs rally for 133-129 win

Miami in sole possession of first place in the East after Bulls loss.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Miami Heat Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

With both teams fresh off victories last night, the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs faced off at the FTX Arena in a high-scoring thrilling game Saturday night. Despite the Spurs being shorthanded without their three top scorers after their double-overtime win against the Washington Wizards, it became a dogfight until the closing seconds with the Heat securing the 133-129 win.

Bam Adebayo started slowly on offense with zero points in the first quarter but then took over the game with a season-high 36 points, first with 10 second quarter points when Miami began to assert themselves in the game. For the second night in a row, they would start the game flat. After falling behind 0-10 against the New York Knicks, tonight they promptly faced a 12-28 hole and gave up 40 first quarter points.

Miami outscored San Antonio 33-18 in the second quarter to take the lead at halftime, at one point holding a 10-point lead, but the Spurs remained dangerous and fully capable of stealing the road win. Devin Vassell stepped up with a career-high 22 points, while Keita Bates-Diop and Lonnie Walker IV also scored 22 apiece and guard Tre Jones contributed 19 points and 11 assists.

But it was Adebayo who took over the game in the second half that was the difference maker. His buzzer beating shot to end the third quarter was impressive enough, but it was the way he kept his aggressiveness down the stretch while Jimmy Butler — who did not enter the game in the fourth quarter — looked on from the bench that was really encouraging to see.

Sixth man of the year candidate Tyler Herro continued his high level of play, closing with 27 points in 34 minutes. After 13 days off, he returned to score a combined 52 points in back-to-back nights.

Butler also scored 27 points while Kyle Lowry had a double-double with 13 points and 10 assists.

Coach Erik Spoelstra stuck with a lineup featuring Caleb Martin in crunch time while Butler rested, possibly due to the back-to-back set but it was a stressful experience ultimately with both Adebayo and Herro both missing a pair of free throws which gave the Spurs an opportunity to cut the deficit to a one-possession game with seconds left. Bates-Diop’s jumper got the Spurs to within two points with 9.2 seconds left, but Gabe Vincent’s two free throws sealed the victory.

Miami now faces a tough stretch of games starting with the Bulls on Monday at the FTX Arena followed by the Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers.