Shorthanded Heat down Raptors 111-102

By Ira Winderman
South Florida Sun Sentinel/TNS

With Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro again out, the Miami Heat had to flip the script Wednesday night in what turned into a 111-102 victory over the Toronto Raptors.

So Kendrick Nunn again flicked the switch with his offense, Kelly Olynyk filled unexpected columns in the box score and Andre Iguodala turned back the clock with several decisive late defensive sequences.

While not quite must-win just 13 games into the season, the Heat opened a daunting four-game trip with a solid step forward, now with their first winning streak of the season.

With Nunn keeping the Heat afloat on the way to a season-high 28 points on 9-of-12 shooting, the Heat got a solid closing effort from Goran Dragic in his 17-point performance. There also was a 14-point, 13-rebound double-double from Bam Adebayo and 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists from Olynyk.

The Heat’s depth of scoring was rounded out by 14 points from Duncan Robinson and 13 from Iguodala.

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At 6-7, the Heat return to Amalie Arena in Tampa to again play the Raptors on Friday night, before Saturday and Monday games against James Harden, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets.

The Heat again were shorthanded, with Jimmy Butler and Bradley away from the team for a fifth consecutive game due to pandemic protocols, Meyers Leonard out for his fifth consecutive game due to a shoulder strain and Herro sidelined for the third consecutive game by neck spasms. Of those four, only Herro traveled.

Five Degrees of Heat from Wednesday’s game:

1. Nunn sense: Nunn followed up Monday’s 18-point performance with something even better. Until Monday, Nunn had scored in double figures only once this season.

Nunn scored 13 points in the second quarter and 10 in the third.

“Just getting our team going,” Nunn said.

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Last season’s runner-up for Rookie of the Year appears to be creating decisions for Spoelstra once Butler, Bradley and Herro are back.

2. Power play: For extended stretches, Olynyk was the Heat’s most impactful big man.

The Raptors, in fact, often went with smaller defenders against Adebayo, who often appeared content to play away from the rim as a facilitator.

With Butler and Herro out, the Raptors seemingly prioritized containing Adebayo, whose lone free-throw attempt through three quarters was on a technical foul on Aron Baynes.

Adebayo then stepped up to round out his double-double in the fourth quarter.

3. Another twist: The Heat made it an NBA-high 10 starting lineups this season in their 13 games, this time with Gabe Vincent opening in the backcourt alongside Dragic.

Those two joined Adebayo, Duncan Robinson and Olynyk in the first five.

It was the second start of the season for Dragic, fourth for Vincent.

4. Robinson rolls early: Robinson went 4 of 4 on 3-pointers in the first quarter, to push past Tyler Johnson for 13th place on the Heat’s all-time list for 3-pointers.

Robinson appeared to make a fifth straight in the second period, but that conversion was removed by the official scorer and changed to a turnover, with video showing his left heel was out of bounds.

5. Iguodala contributes: Spoelstra saved Iguodala’s minutes for closing time and it payed off with several solid defensive possessions by the veteran forward, who was particularly active at the top of the Heat zone defense.

Bam Adebayo (13) of the Miami Heat passes away from Kyle Lowry (7) of the Toronto Raptors during a game at Amalie Arena on Jan. 20, 2021 in Tampa, Fla.