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Heat handle Suns, 104-96, behind Victor Oladipo’s 26-point statement performance

He’s here, folks.

Miami Heat v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Even after Wednesday’s dismal loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Miami Heat closed their five-game road trip with a 104-96 victory over a hobbled Phoenix Suns squad on Friday.

Victor Oladipo was the story of the night, totaling a game-high 26 points — his career high coming off the bench — on 7-of-10 shooting, including 4-of-6 from beyond the arc and 8-of-10 from the free-throw line. In addition, he had just a pair of assists and steals, but his overall two-way impact proved to be vital yet again.

Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo both had productive nights yet again; Butler finished with 20 points, five rebounds, six assists and a pair of steals, while Adebayo had 21 points, 11 rebounds, two assists and two steals on 10-of-15 shooting.

Max Strus had a roller coaster of a shooting night, but ultimately needed five of his 12 triples with three assists, one steal and one block.

The Suns were led by Deandre Ayton, who had 23 points with 14 rebounds — both team highs. Torrey Craig was quite impactful, finishing with 17 points and nine rebounds on 7-of-11 shooting, while Mikal Bridges added 15 points, four rebounds, seven assists and two steals.

Chris Paul did not play in the second half due to right hip soreness. He finished with five points, one assist and one steal in 12 minutes.

As the score indicated, both teams still struggled to fashion much halfcourt offense, both finishing in the 30th percentile or lower in halfcourt points per possession (Miami - 106.3, 28th; Phoenix - 101.1, 15th), per Cleaning the Glass.

The Heat shot 42.3 percent from the floor and 31.6 percent from 3-point range; meanwhile, Phoenix shot 41.5 percent, but only connected on six of their 23 attempts from distance.

Miami jumped out to a good start, but shot just 30 percent in the second quarter — including a four-minute stretch without a basket — relinquishing a once nine-point lead. Though and Adebayo jumper plus five straight from Butler allowed Miami to go into halftime up 51-46.

Miami widened the lead to 14 in the third before it quickly vanished after Adebayo went to the bench. The Suns cut it to as close as one, before a pair of nifty Oladipo lay-ins brought it back to five before the final period.

The final quarter was really about Oladipo, though. He had 10 of his 26 in the final period, including a thunderous one-handed slam that made it 89-75 with 7:36 left plus a step-back triple over Craig with less than two minutes left that made it a 10-point lead.

Miami ultimately closed the road trip going 3-2, moving to 21-19 on the season. They have now won five of their last seven and nine of their last 13, even though it might’ve not felt like that all too much throughout the way.

Now they enter their toughest part of the schedule, beginning with the red-hot Brooklyn Nets, who have 13 of their last 14 and 17 of their last 19, on Sunday at 6:00 p.m. ET.