Mateo’s Hoop Diary: Heat take care of Spurs in fourth quarter

The young and rebuilding Spurs hung around with the Heatles for three quarters but were overmatched in the last.

Early, Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo were the only positives of the offense. The former burned drop coverage and splashed two catch-and-shoot trays. The latter obliterated paint protections, shooting over the 7-foot-4 Victor Wembanyama twice, rim rolling, attacking in transition and hoisting at the nail facing Zach Collins. The rest of the team converted five of 13 baskets.

Defensively, man coverage and the 2-3 zone offered as much resistance as now-suspended commissioner Alex Díaz de la Portilla allegedly showed to bribes. The Spurs dissected the hosts off the dribble, with pick and pop and inside cuts, while providing almost nothing from long range, registering 13 of 23 baskets to start.

Next, the Heat started the second frame, making two buckets in seven minutes. But moves from Terry Rozier, Josh Richardson Adebayo and Herro saved the crew from total disaster on offense.

On the other side, Wembanyama scored thrice in transition but bailed out the Heat, misfiring twice on the baseline. Devin Vassell dusted Duncan Robinson and Richardson from the top to the defense’s heart for two baskets, plus canned a left baseline jumper, using a stagger screen to get open. The other Spurs made 30% of tries.

At halftime, the Heat led 53-51 but were behind on the glass by one. Additionally, the group had 26 paint points, none on the break, two via second chances and eight after turnovers. Herro had 12 points on five of eight looks. Adebayo also logged a dozen on 66.7% shooting.

The Spurs had 30 interior marks, five on the break, five from extra tries and three after turnovers. Wemby accumulated 12 points on five of nine attempts. And Vassell had 11 on the scoring ledger on 41.7% shooting.

In the third frame, Butler blundered four ventures, and Rozier couldn’t connect over Wembanyama or hit deep shots when the ball kicked out. But Adebayo and Herro took over. The big man rim rolled, dunked on the break, and drove through Julian Champagnie for a layup. And Herro, swished a jumper at the nail, discharged two extra triples and dribbled past Blake Wesley from the top to the cup for a layup.

For the Spurs, Wembanyama, who was making 30.1% of 3-point tries before the match, buried two more- one in Adebayo’s eye in the left corner and a pull-up in transition behind Tre Jones’ screen. Vassell supplied eight more points. And Jones tallied two layups, beating Rozier and Caleb Martin from the outside to the rim and produced a trifecta.

Subsequently, the Heat started the fourth quarter ahead 78-77, but Butler kickstarted the flurry to the finish line. The Spurs couldn’t stop him from piercing the paint and setting up his teammates six times. Two of Jaime Jaquez Jr.’s late scores were helped by Butler and his other four dimes went to Adebayo, Martin, Robinson and Rozier.

Defensively, the Spurs struggled against the zone and provided almost nothing from deep.

The Heat won 116-104. The fourth was the group’s top offensive interval of the evening, recording 12 of 19 attempts. Besides, it accounted for 50 paint points, 10 on the break, six from extra tries and 19 after turnovers for the night.

Herro led the team in points with 24 on 10 of 15 shots. Next was Adebayo with 20, making 71.4% of looks. And Butler had 17 points and 11 rebounds.

The Spurs had 52 points in the square, 15 on the break, 14 via second chances and 13 after turnovers. Vassell and Jones each logged 19 points. And Wembanyama contributed 18 on his scoring ledger on 53.8% shooting and 13 rebounds.

At the postgame presser, coach Erik Spoelstra responded to a question about Adebayo and Herro’ connection saying, “You need firepower in this league to score against the best defenses. They’ve worked intentionally on building that collaboration between the two of them for the last two or three years. Now when they have to anchor some units, they know they have to lean on each other…”

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