Heat squander 21-point lead, recover to top Clippers 110-100 behind Adebayo’s 31 for 8th win in last 11 – Boston Herald



Apparently 2023 is going to resemble the end of 2022 in at least one respect for the Miami Heat: No lead is safe.

This time a 21-point lead in the first half and an 18-point edge at the intermission. And then trailing in the third quarter and at the start of the fourth.

So, yes, perhaps load up again on the anxiety meds.

But there also is the Heat relief of being two games above .500 for the first time this season, with Monday night’s 110-100 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers at Crypto.Com Arena lifting them to 20-18.

“It’s got to hurt at some point,” center Bam Adebayo said of the pain of those previous blown leads.

“The games we lost, we learned from,” guard Tyler Herro said of this climb back up the standings.

Winning for the eighth time in 11 games, the Heat were powered by 31 points and 13 rebounds from Adebayo, with Herro adding 23 points and Victor Oladipo 15.

“We’re playing with an edge,” Oladipo said. “We’ve just got to build on it.”

The efforts from Adebayo, Herro and Oladipo were needed with Jimmy Butler limited to nine points on 2-of-8 shooting and Kyle Lowry to six points.

Paul George led the Clippers, who were without Kawhi Leonard, with 25 points.

“We’ve been developing some resilience,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “You have to have that, some collective toughness on the road.”

Five Degrees of Heat from Monday’s game:

1. Closing time: The Heat led 34-28 at the end of the first quarter, pushed their lead to 21 in the second period and went into halftime up 67-59. But with the Clippers stringing together a 24-2 third-quarter run, the Heat tried 83-81 going into the fourth.

But the Heat then opened the fourth quarter with a 7-0 run to move to an 88-83 lead, with a Herro 3-pointer later putting them up 101-95 with 4:28 to play and an Adebayo putback dunk making the lead 103-95 with 3:40 to left.

“I thought the second unit took it up another level,” Herro said of the Heat regaining their footing before the final push. “To respond the way we did was big for us.”

2. Bam boom: Adebayo opened 6 of 7 from the field, thriving in the lane, including on the short roll from Herro, and kept going from there, again the fulcrum of the offense, positively with a bounce in his step.

“Bam was just Mr. Reliable all game long,” Spoelstra said. “Bam was able to really help us control the game from a paint standpoint.”

Adebayo closed 12 of 19 from the field, his body of work coming exclusively in the paint.

“That’s in my wheelhouse,” he said.

The game was Adebayo’s 50th in a row scoring in double figures, five games off the longest such streak of his career. The double-double moved Adebayo past Udonis Haslem and into sole possession of fourth place on that Heat all-time list.

Adebayo has now scored 63 points on 23-of-36 shooting the past two games, with the Heat 6-0 this season when Adebayo scores 30 or more.

“It just feels good to be on that winning streak again,” he said.

3. Oladipo again: Oladipo followed up his season-high 23 points on Saturday night in Utah with another solid effort as the first wing off the bench, at 11 points at the intermission.

Oladipo consistently was in attack mode, the Heat no longer attempting to merely buy time when Butler and Herro are out of the game.

“Vic gave us just some really impactful plays on both sides of the floor,” Spoelstra said, adding of Oladipo’s defensive impact, “He just has electrifying quickness laterally.

“And you can see, he’s getting his confidence, and his health and his burst back.”

It all is in the simplicity, Oladipo said.

“It’s coming out hard and trying to raise the level on both ends of the court,” he said.

4. Closer to whole: For only the 13th time this season, the Heat opened with their preferred starting lineup of Adebayo, Caleb Martin, Butler, Herro and Lowry, now 6-7 when starting those five.

Martin had been listed as questionable with a quad strain earlier in the day, having missed the previous two games. He played only his initial stints at the start of each half, going 14:04.

“It was good to get back out there,” he said. “But I’m still not 100 percent.”

5. Less than whole: The Clippers were without Leonard due to an illness. He previously missed the first of the teams’ two games as part of what the team listed as knee management.

Like the Heat, the Clippers have been limited this season with their prime alignment, with only 14 games with Leonard and George in action together.

George briefly left the court in the fourth quarter due to a hamstring issue.

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