Bam Adebayo jumper at buzzer lifts Butler-less Heat over Nets 109-107

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Ira Winderman, South Florida Sun Sentinel
·4 min read
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The attrition came well before the moments of truth.

James Harden was declared out for the Brooklyn Nets a day in advance of Sunday’s game at AmericanAirlines Arena. Jimmy Butler was formally a scratch by the Miami Heat two hours before tipoff. And less than five minutes in, Kevin Durant was done for the afternoon for the Nets with a thigh contusion.

With the playing field balanced in the most unexpected of ways, Bam Adebayo made the moment of truth his own, with the Heat center converting a step-back jumper from the left-side of the lane at the buzzer for a 109-107 victory to snap a three-game losing streak.

For the Heat balance was needed and balance was offered, with 21 points and 15 rebounds from Adebayo, 18 points, eight rebounds and seven assists from Goran Dragic, as well as 18 points from Kendrick Nunn, 15 from Trebor Ariza and 11 from Duncan Robinson. That was boosted by a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double by center Dewayne Dedmon in his Heat home debut.

For the Nets, the scoring after Durant’s departure was concentrated, with a season-high 30 points from Landry Shamet and 20 from Kyrie Irving.

Five Degrees of Heat from Sunday’s game:

1. Closing time: The Heat went into the fourth quarter up 86-84, fell behind 90-89, but then pushed to a 99-92 lead with 6:50 left.

But consecutive turnovers by Adebayo, his sixth and seventh of the game, fueled a pair of transition baskets and a 103-99 Nets lead with 4:33 to play.

Ultimately, it grew to a 13-0 run 105-99 Nets lead.

With 1:48 left, Aa floater in the lane by Ariza drew the Heat within 107-105, with a driving layup by Dragic in transition tying it 107-107 with 43.6 seconds left.

An Irving jumper followed, followed by Adebayo’s buzzer-beating jumper.

2. No Butler: After he first surfaced on the injury report Saturday night, Butler was ruled out two hours before Sunday’s tipoff with a sprained right ankle.

Coach Erik Spoelstra said the ankle, “is something that was not getting better. It was just getting worse. So we want to make sure we can take care of it right now.”

Although he had not missed a game since the March 25 home loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, when he was out due to a stomach illness, Butler twisted his right ankle during the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s road loss to the Phoenix Suns, before returning later in that game.

He then was listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game against the Denver Nuggets, but played both in that loss and in Friday’s loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, when he led the Heat with 30 points before calling out teammates for what he perceived as “soft” play.

Spoelstra said Butler would be listed as day to day.

“This is going to be something we have to communicate,” Spoelstra said, “that Jimmy’s will and competitiveness is obviously immense and we want to make sure we’re being smart about it.”

Butler, 31, had not missed time due to injury since sitting out a pair of games against the Atlanta Hawks on Feb. 28 and March 2, with the Heat splitting that pair.

The Heat went into Sunday 4-11 in Butler’s absence this season.

3. Altered reality: Andre Iguodala, who sat out Friday’s loss in Minnesota with hip soreness, started in place of Butler.

But the changes hardly ended there, Dedmon played as the Heat’s first big man off the bench, and KZ Okpala entered at the start of the second period, the first meaningful minutes for Okpala in a month.

Dedmon was impactful with his force, something the Heat have been lacking this season, an upgrade in that respect on Precious Achiuwa and Nemanja Bjelica, who fell out of the mix.

4. Sustaining early: The constant in the three-game losing streak the Heat brought into the game was leads at the ends of opening periods, followed by second-quarter collapses.

This time the lead was 32-31 at the end of one and 64-60 at halftime.

The Heat were 12 of 20 at halftime on 3-pointers, the fourth time this season they had 12 or more in a half.

5. Still out: Victor Oladipo was on the sidelines in warm-up gear pregame, but missed his fifth consecutive game due to knee soreness.

Spoelstra said there was no new update on Oladipo, declining to specify whether Oladipo has been participating in basketball-related activities or whether Oladipo would be back this season.