The first quarter wasn’t going the way the Miami Heat drew it up on Tuesday night. They were down 25-20 at the end of the frame when Jimmy Butler decided to send a message to teammate Max Strus while strolling down the crowded bench.
Strus had his hand out for a low slap when Butler flipped the script and threw up his middle finger. The awkward routine must have been rehearsed during practice at least once or twice because Strus quickly turned that high five upside down. The two shared a complementary middle finger that went viral on social media after Miami’s 100-92 win over the Detroit Pistons.
The hapless Pistons took a 76-67 lead into the fourth quarter before the Heat woke up. Miami outscored Detroit 33-16 in the fourth quarter and walked away with the come-from-behind victory.
They have now won five of their last six contests following a three-game losing streak earlier in November. Butler finished with 15 points, five assists, nine rebounds on a night where he mostly struggled. He was 4-of-13 from the field for a minus-7 rating.
Meanwhile, Strus didn’t see the floor in this one as head coach Erik Spoelstra opted for Gabe Vincent and Caleb Martin off the bench. Tyler Herro played starter’s minutes and guided the Heat comeback. He had 31 points in 33 minutes while going 4-of-8 from the three-point line.
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Herro: ‘I’m a Winner, I Want to Compete’
Herro has made a strong case for NBA Sixth Man of the Year through his first 16 games. The third-year guard is averaging career highs in points (21.6), minutes (33.6), rebounds (5.5), assists (3.9) and three-point percentage (.395). Spoelstra’s intention was for Herro to thrive as the first player off the bench, but no one expected this kind of production.
The 21-year-old put in the work in the offseason and he’s reaping the rewards. He was the best player on the court for either team on Tuesday night, something that’s been true multiple times this year. And Herro doesn’t care if he’s in the starting five. He just wants to win basketball games.
“I mean, I’m a winner,” Herro said, via the Sun-Sentinel. “You put me on the court, I’ll try to compete. I want to win. I’ve always embraced being that guy since high school, really my whole life.”
Heat Rise to No. 5 in Power Rankings
NBA.com updated their weekly power rankings prior to tip-off on Tuesday night and upgraded the Heat a whole spot. Miami (12-6) now sits at No. 5, sandwiched between the Brooklyn Nets (12-5) and Washington Wizards (11-5), after taking No. 6 last week.
The team ranks fourth-best in offensive rating (111.7) and fifth-best in defensive rating (104.3), according to John Schuhmann. He singled out Butler as a reason why:
Jimmy Butler has scored at least 27 points in each of the last five games that he’s been able to finish, even though he’s made just three 3-pointers over that stretch. He continues to get to the line at a high rate and he’s shot 15-for-27 (56%) from mid-range, up from 11-for-34 (32%) prior to that.