Appreciate this: With the Miami Heat playing on the second night of a back-to-back set against a team idle the previous night, Stephen Curry stood at midcourt with 5:31 to play repeatedly beating his chest after draining a crossover, step-back 3-pointer.
Yes, a 123-110 Heat loss Thursday night at Chase Center.
Yes, now a 2-4 record for Erik Spoelstra’s team.
But the fact that it required some of the best from the Golden State Warriors, including some of the best from the Warriors’ best player, nonetheless was heartening.
Play this way against a team that is not the defending NBA champion and there figure to be plenty of positive results for the Heat.
With Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo at the top of their games and the Heat feisty and menacing on the defensive end, they arguably put together a performance even better than what produced victory a night early against the Portland Trail Blazers at the start of this three-game western swing that concludes Saturday against the Golden State Warriors.
Butler closed with 27 points, eight assists, six rebounds and six steals, Adebayo with 27 points.
What the Heat couldn’t overcome was a 50-31 rebounding deficit.
With Curry scoring 33, the Warriors had enough to hold on.
Five Degrees of Heat from Thursday’s game:
1. Closing time: The Heat trailed 63-59 at halftime and 92-87 going into the fourth quarter.
Golden State then went up by eight with just over eight minutes to play.
After the Heat got within five, Curry drained his chest-pumping 3-pointer for a nine-point lead and moments later a Klay Thompson 3-pointer put Golden State up nine, with a Curry 3-pointer with 2:40 to play extending the lead to 11.
2. Having it all: Butler continues to show the full range of his game, going into the fourth quarter with seven steals and four 3-pointers.
The Heat particularly played to Butler’s strengths when Adebayo was out, playing an almost exaggerated five-out offense that left Butler free to orchestrate and attack.
Butler also converted another 3-pointer and then a 3-point play to help the Heat recover from a 13-point second-quarter to within four at the intermission.
He stood with 20 points, four assists and four rebounds at halftime, already with his seventh career game with at least three 3-pointers.
3. Downsized: The Heat were left without a true backup center when Dewayne Dedmon was declared out shortly before tipoff. That was with Omer Yurtseven sent back to South Florida earlier in the day due to the ankle issue that has had him out since the preseason opener.
That had 19-year-old rookie Nikola Jovic getting his first NBA first-quarter minutes, after making his NBA debut a night earlier.
After a foul-filled debut Wednesday, Jovic went without one during his opening 2:46 stint, before Adebayo was rushed back into the game following a brief rest.
4. Limited option: This was a night when the Heat well could have turned to Plan B had Victor Oladipo been available, instead of back in South Florida again treating a sore knee.
It was a night that called for an alternative to Tyler Herro, who closed 3 of 12 from the field and 1 of 5 on 3-pointers.
At one point in the third quarter, Herro pulled the trigger on a wayward 3-pointer early in the shot clock only to see Curry convert one in transition on the same sequence, for an immediate six-point swing.
5. Efficient attack: Adebayo maximized both his shot efficiency and ability to get to the line, closing 10 of 13 from the field, 6 of 8 from the line.
It was the combined efficiency of Butler and Adebayo that kept the Heat afloat while the team’s 3-point shooters were off, on a 14-of-43 night from beyond the arc.
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