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The Miami Heat didn’t have its starting point guard for the second game of the regular season.
Veteran Kyle Lowry was ruled out about 30 minutes before the start of Saturday night’s matchup against the Indiana Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse because of a sprained left ankle. Gabe Vincent started in Lowry’s place.
Lowry left Thursday’s season-opening home win over the Milwaukee Bucks briefly in the second quarter after turning the ankle, but returned to play 6:59 in the second half and finish the game. He finished his Heat regular-season debut with five points on 1-of-8 shooting from the field and 1-of-6 shooting on threes, one rebound and six assists in 24 minutes.
Heat reserve center Dewayne Dedmon was available to play in Saturday’s game despite being listed as questionable because of sprained right ankle.
Lowry, who signed a fully guaranteed three-year, $85 million contract to join the Heat in free agency this past offseason, turns 36 in March. He played in the fewest games (46) last season since his rookie year and also logged the fewest minutes (1,601) since 2011-12, in part because of the pandemic-shortened schedule.
But Lowry has proven to be relatively durable throughout most of his NBA career, as he has played in 60 or more games in seven of the past nine seasons.
“It’s not the 1980s. Guys are taking care of themselves in a totally different way,” Spoelstra said earlier this week when asked about the Heat’s decision to sign a 35-year-old Lowry to a multi-year contract. “You’re going to see this next generation of players, probably a lot of them are going to play into their 40s. It’s just much different with science and rest, strength training, keeping your mobility and flexibility.
“And guys that are like Kyle who also can compete with his mind and manipulate a game just with the neck up. He can play for as long as he wants. That will be his decision. But just that ability to make other players better and manipulate games with his brain, that will last a long time.”
Along with Lowry, the only other Heat player who missed Saturday’s game was guard Victor Oladipo, who continues to recover from May knee surgery. Oladipo is the only player on the roster who did not travel to Indianapolis.
The Pacers were also short-handed against the Heat after falling to the Washington Wizards 135-134 in overtime on Friday night at Capital One Arena.
After traveling back home to face the Heat on the second night of a back-to-back, Indiana was without Caris LeVert (sore back), Kelan Martin (hamstring strain) and T.J. Warren (navicular fracture) on Saturday.
“No. Ideally that’s who we will become, where we can wear teams down,” Spoelstra said when asked if he views games against teams playing on the second night of a back-to-back differently. “But it’s not as if I’m going to change the rotation based on that. I want our guys competing and playing their minutes hard every game.”
G LEAGUE DRAFT REVIEW
The Heat’s developmental affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, selected former Fort Lauderdale Pine Crest standout guard Brandon Knight with its first-round pick (No. 6 overall) in Saturday’s G League draft.
Knight, 29, played for the Brooklyn Nets’ summer league team this year. He was selected with the eighth overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft and played eight seasons in the NBA, with his last appearance in a game coming on March 11, 2020 — the day the 2019-20 season was suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Knight averaged 15.2 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists over his first six seasons, with the Detroit Pistons, Bucks and Phoenix Suns. But after tearing his ACL, he missed all of 2017-18.
“Obviously, he’s right from our backyard, so we’ve followed his career. We also tend to like Kentucky guys,” Spoelstra said of Knight on Saturday. “Then over the years, we’ve kept in touch. Then he and I have had some discussions about this, basically all summer long. His goal is to get into the league somehow, someway. I think he has a lot to offer. He has to prove that he’s healthy, which I think he is. He’s really put in a lot of work the last couple years.”
Retired Heat star Dwyane Wade’s oldest son, Zaire, was taken by the Utah Jazz’s developmental affiliate, the Salt Lake City Stars, with the 10th overall pick. Wade purchased an ownership stake in the Jazz earlier this year and the expectation was that Zaire would be drafted by his father’s organization.
The Skyforce also selected undrafted Michigan guard Mike Smith with the 13th pick in the second round and undrafted Texas Tech forward Joel Ntambwe with the 13th pick in the third round of Saturday’s G League draft. Smith “trains with mentor and close friend Jimmy Butler,” according to his Michigan bio, and Ntambwe is the older brother of Golden State Warriors lottery pick Jonathan Kuminga.
Training camps around the G League open on Monday. The four Exhibit 10 players who were cut by the Heat ahead of the regular season — Micah Potter, Javonte Smart, Dru Smith and D.J. Stewart — are expected be on the Skyforce’s roster as affiliate players.
Center Trey Mourning, who is the son of Heat executive Alonzo Mourning, is also expected to be on the Skyforce’s roster as a returning-rights player.