With 4:54 left in the second quarter, the last-in-the-West Houston Rockets took a 13-point lead over the top-of-the-East Miami Heat. By halftime, the Heat grabbed a four-point lead. And Miami took control to let Jimmy Butler rest for the entire fourth quarter.
After a lackadaisical start, the Heat dominated the Rockets 123-106 in Victor Oladipo’s season debut to improve to 44-22 on the season.
Butler and Tyler Herro powered the way for Miami during this decisive run, one that grew to 22-3 in a span that bridged the end of the second quarter and the beginning of the third. Butler made and-ones and Herro nailed 3-pointers, two of which came in the final 28 seconds of the half.
Denial on one end, and-1 on the other pic.twitter.com/RdpDMomgZO— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) March 8, 2022
No one gets this building buzzing like him right now pic.twitter.com/0rryzYBY5G— Brendan Tobin (@Brendan_Tobin) March 8, 2022
And in the third quarter, the Heat quickly turned their four-point halftime edge into a double-digit lead. Oladipo checked into the game late in the third quarter — he first entered the game late in the first period — and offered tantalizing possibilities for this team. He drove to the basket for a Dewayne Dedmon slam. He slashed to the basket for a nice layup while the crowd chanted his name.
And early in the fourth quarter, Oladipo again showed a burst for an electrifying dunk.
In 15 minutes of action — Erik Spoelstra said that would be his minutes restriction — the two-time All-Star finished with 11 points, four rebounds and two drawn charges. It was as good of a debut as anyone could’ve hoped for. Now, Oladipo has to build on this start until the playoffs.
Herro led Miami with 31 points on 12-of-18 shooting from the field, including 6-of-9 from downtown. When the Heat had nothing going on for most of the first half, Herro and Butler breathed life back into the Miami cause. (Adebayo was strangely pedestrian for the first half before playing much, much better in the second.) Butler finished with 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field, seven rebounds and four assists in 29 minutes.
In the first half, Adebayo missed a couple shots at the rim against Rockets center Alperen Sengun (Christian Wood was out with an illness). The Heat’s 2017 first-round pick also picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter, but made some good plays to close the books on the win. He finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Spoelstra did not play Gabe Vincent or Max Strus until garbage time. Aside from Oladipo, Kyle Lowry also returned from a four-game absence due to personal reasons. Lowry went scoreless in 32 minutes — he took just three shots, all from beyond the arc — but he dished out five assists, including Oladipo’s first made bucket.
The way Oladipo said “thank you” to Lowry after the assist on his first points-— jeremy taché (@jeremytache) March 8, 2022
Did it just get dusty in here? pic.twitter.com/O59OryBLCl
Duncan Robinson added 13 points, and P.J. Tucker chipped in 11 points and 12 rebounds. Both of them made several two-point baskets — Robinson dove and cut to the rim, while Tucker made a couple of his patented hook shots.
The Heat will host the Phoenix Suns Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.