After back-to-back wins over the Atlanta Hawks, the Miami Heat had an opportunity to get some real momentum going on Wednesday night with a third-straight win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Instead, they fell just short down the stretch en route to a 104-100 loss.
Miami did have an opportunity to level the score at 103 points apiece in the game’s final 10 seconds. However, a Max Strus triple rolled around the rim and out on the possession, after which Evan Mobley put a bow on the affair with a free throw to make it a two-possession game with just 2.3 ticks remaining.
And while one could label the effort a moral victory given the closeness of the contest and the Cavs’ position in the standings, the fact that the Heat eschewed going to one of their big guns in the clutch and lost as a result left some fans reeling.
For his part, though, Heat star Jimmy Butler stood by his guy — as well as the play that was executed — in the immediate aftermath of the club’s heartbreaking loss.
Jimmy Butler Stands By Max Strus Taking the Potential Game-Tying Shot Against the Cavs
Make no mistake, Butler has been visibly and audibly grumpy in the wake of multiple recent setbacks, making it clear that he and his teammates aren’t about the losing life. Regardless, the six-time All-Star wasn’t looking to voice any grievances about how the endgame played out.
“I take that look,” Butler told reporters after the loss, via Five Reasons Sports’ Brady Hawk.“ Max shooting that three, Tyler [Herro] shooting a three, whoever. Get the shooters open knowing that they’re not gonna come off of my body anyways, and next time, he will make that.”
Strus had made just 2-of-7 shots from the field (all triples) to that point and, for the year, he’s connecting at an unthreatening 33.5% clip from three-point range. Statistics notwithstanding, though, Butler had nothing but words of support for the baller during his postgame media availability.
“That’s what Max does for us — stretches the floor, take/make big shots, whether it’s in the second quarter, third quarter, fourth quarter or overtime, or the first quarter, now that I think about it.”
Strus finished the game with nine points, two rebounds and an assist in 21 minutes of play off the bench. Butler, meanwhile, scored a game-high 28 points on just 14 shots and added five dimes, five boards and a pair of steals.
Kyle Lowry Set to Miss Yet Another Game
For the 14th consecutive game, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was forced to trot out Gabe Vincent as a member of the starting five. And, has been the case in multiple recent starts, the career backup failed to make a significant impact.
Vincent went scoreless over 18 minutes of play, attempting just one shot and finishing with an equal number of assists and turnovers (two). Alas, he’ll likely be in with the first-teamers once again for Friday’s rematch with the Cavs. As relayed the Miami Herald’s Anthony Chiang and others, Kyle Lowry is set to miss his 15th consecutive game with back soreness.
Chiang did note, however, that the 2019 NBA champion “looks to be nearing his return.”