Sunday, June 26, 2022

Heat fail to step up late, fall 113-104 to Timberwolves

The Miami Heat took the middle ground Saturday night at FTX Arena.

They gave Jimmy Butler the night off to rest a chronically sore toe.

But they also pushed as if it was a game with significant stakes.

Ultimately, the Heat’s offense failed them in the second half, as they fell 113-104 to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

From a 42-point second quarter, the Heat dropped off to a 19-point third quarter and an 18-point fourth.

Against a surging opponent, that rarely is going to get it done.

No, a loss to a Western Conference opponent is not as costly when it comes to playoff tiebreakers. And yes, Butler now has until Tuesday night’s visit by the Detroit Pistons to regain his needed footing.

But, still, there rarely is comfort when a 17-point lead is squandered, taking much of the edge off Markieff Morris’ long-awaited return.

Unable to make needed plays late, the Heat lost for the second time in three games.

While there were 30 points from Tyler Herro and a 19-point, 12-rebound double-double from Bam Adebayo, as well as 19 points from Max Strus, it was a night when the Heat needed more than 4-of-12 shooting from point guard Kyle Lowry.

The Timberwolves got a 15-point, 10-rebound double-double from center Karl-Anthony Towns and balance across the board to put it away.

Five Degrees of Heat from Saturday’s game:

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1. Closing time: Up 12 at halftime, the Heat went into the fourth down 89-86.

A Herro 3-pointer briefly put the Heat up three with 5:20 to play, but seven consecutive Minnesota points, including a Towns jumper, later had the Timberwolves up 104-100 with 2:11 to play.

A Strus 3-pointer with 1:59 left got the Heat within 104-103, but a pair of Anthony Edwards free throws with 1:43 to go put the Timberwolves up 106-103.

Lowry then got to the line with 67 seconds to play, but made only the first of two free throws, with a Malik Beasley 3-pointer then effectively putting it away for Minnesota.

2. Re-debut: Out since his Nov. 8 run-in with Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, Morris made his return with 4:03 to play in the opening period, after 58 missed games.

The Heat initially went with Straus at backup power forward, after Tucker was called for two early fouls, before Morris entered to a warm ovation.

Morris’ first basket in four months came on a driving layup with 8.2 seconds left in the opening period, on his first attempt of the game.

He later found himself playing meaningful minutes in the fourth quarter.

Morris closed with six points on 3-of-7 shooting and four rebounds in 17:01.

3. At it again: Herro again produced a transformative entrance, with yet another double-digit second period, this time with 18 points in the quarter.

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At one point in the second period, he stood at 3 of 5 on 3-pointers, with the rest of his teammates 1 of 9.

Herro this past week scored 21 points in the second period against the Rockets, and then 12 in the second periods Wednesday against the Suns and Friday against the Cavaliers.

It was the fourth time Herro has scored 20 points in the first half this season, with 21 at the intermission.

4. Number game: Adebayo made it 10 double-doubles in his last 14 games.

The Heat initially opened with PJ Tucker defending Towns, but with Tucker in early foul trouble, Adebayo had to move on to that assignment.

Towns, though, also played in foul trouble, with his fourth with 6:34 left in the third period.

With his third assist, Adebayo moved past Eddie Jones for eighth on the Heat all-time list.

5. Sizzling second: The Heat scored 42 points in the second period, their second-high-scoring quarter of the season.

After shooting 1 of 11 on 3-pointers in the first period, the Heat went 8 of 10 from beyond the arc in the second.

Beyond Herro’s 18 points in the second quarter, the Heat got 12 in the period from Straus, including a bank-in (somehow) corner 3-pointer.

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Nation World News Desk
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