Heat give it their best shot in 130-128 comeback victory over Hawks – The Denver Post


So this is what it looks like when the 3-pointers are falling, the bench is contributing and the fight doesn’t wane.

And so, from 15 down early Monday night, the Miami Heat followed the fight of their leader and made it consecutive victories over the Atlanta Hawks at Miami-Dade Arena with a 130-128 decision.

Even with Jimmy Butler closing with 26 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, at 8 of 14 from the field and 10 of 12 from the line, this was more than a one-man show.

It also was 21 points apiece from Victor Oladipo from Caleb Martin, 16 from Bam Adebayo, 14 from Tyler Herro and even 14 from Duncan Robinson.

And it again was another clutch moment, the Heat’s 46 game defined as “clutch” by the NBA – one within five points at any time in the final five minutes. It also was the Heat’s 36th game decided by five or fewer points, five off the league all-time single-season record.

Moving closer to a division title that yet could factor into a key playoff tiebreaker, the Heat extended their lead to 2 1/2 games over the Hawks atop the Southeast, in that race for the No. 7 playoff seed in the Eastern Conference.

“We’re the type of team that can grind it out,” Martin said. “We just got to keep sticking to what we do.”

Instead of their typical how-low-can-you-go approach, the Heat turned up the offense by closing16 of 29 on 3-pointers, with Oladipo contributing four and Herro and Robinson three apiece.

“It was important to get this two-game set,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We knew the context of it.”

Five Degrees of Heat from Monday’s game:

1. Closing time: With the Hawks making 11 of their first 12 shots, the Hawks pushed to a 43-30 lead at the end of the first period, before the Heat trimmed their deficit to 68-63 at halftime.

The Heat then tied it twice late in the third period, before going into the fourth down 96-92.

From there, the Heat moved to a four-point lead early in the fourth, before it was tied 113-113 midway through the period.

But with Heat’s 3-pointers falling, consecutive 3-pointers by Martin and Herro then staked the Heat to a 119-113 lead with 4:29 remaining.

Butler and Hawks guard Trae Young would match baskets from there, before a Herro turnover and a driving Dejounte Murray layup brought Atlanta within 125-122 with 47 seconds remaining.

An apparent Adebayo basket then was negated with 32 seconds remaining when Adebayo was called for a travel, but Martin came up with a steal against Young on the other end to keep the Heat lead at three.

From there, Butler converted a pair of Heat free throws for a 127-122 Heat lead, with 16.6 seconds remaining, effectively ending it.

“I think we’ve developed a lot of grit this year,” Spoelstra said. “We stayed the course.”

2. Lineup shuffle: With Kevin Love out with a bruised rib, Max Strus was injected into the starting lineup for the 28th time this season, giving the Heat their 22nd starting lineup.

The move allowed the Heat to retain the recent continuity of Martin playing in reserve.

“Max has shown that type of versatility,” Spoelsrta said. “He can shift between either unit and have an impact.”

The Heat are listing Love as day-to-day, with X-rays negative.

With Love out, Robinson got back into the rotation after being held out of three of the previous four games, scoring 11 first-half points.

3. Oladipo’s burst: Between the soaring, aggressive alley-oop dunk off a Robinson feed early in the fourth quarter to a killer crossover moments later against Murray, Oladipo displayed a level of aggression and athleticism that some considered in his past tense after a series of knee procedures.

There also was an element of skill, with Oladipo reaching a season high in 3-pointers.

Oladipo’s play allowed Spoelstra to buy extra time on the bench for Butler, who sat from late in the third quarter until he returned with 5:45 remaining.

“He really impacted that win today,” Spoelstra said, “and we needed that burst from him tonight.”

4. Martin surges: Martin was energy personified for the Heat in the second quarter, scoring 16 points in the period on 6-of-7 shooting from the field and 5-of-6 shooting from the line.

By consistently moving without the ball, he added a vitality that so often has been missing from the Heat offense this season.

“I just think I’ve been able to bring that spark,” Martin said after his highest-scoring outing in his last 35 appearances.

Spoelstra was appreciative of the two-way effort.

“I just told him, he’s our version of the matrix,” Spoelstra said.

5. For starters: The Heat were a defensive disaster in the first period, with Spoelstra angrily admonishing his players after being forced to burn an early timeout.

The Hawks closed the first period 19 of 26 from the field, with just one turnover.

The 43 points were the most the Heat have allowed in any period in more than two seasons, with the 19 baskets a Hawks high for any quarter this season.

“That had us on our heels,” Spoelstra said.