Mateo’s Hoop Diary: Spoelstra’s Spoilers deliver the Spurs fifth consecutive loss

The percolating and undermanned Heat visited the Spurs and gave the 7-foot-4 Victor Wembanyama another warm welcome to the league, forcing him to play half his size. Yet, the Heat’s offense was disorganized, its glass protection was feeble, and it fell behind significantly in the first half without Tyler Herro and Kyle Lowry from the main rotation. But en route to the finish line, the match was tied seven times, with 10 lead changes before the Heat, winners of five straight, took control of the fourth quarter.

Miami was frozen in the first interval, making six of 23 attempts and at one point bricking 10 consecutively. The Spurs bothered jump shots, deployed drop coverage and allowed zero fastbreak baskets. After one period, the hosts led 29-15, holding Jimmy Butler and Duncan Robinson without a field goal in seven tries.

Early in the next frame, Keldon Johnson’s block on Jaime Jaquez Jr. set up a fastbreak triple to Malaki Branham, extending the Spurs’ lead to 19 points. Then, amid a 15-0 run, Robinson got loose for a layup down the middle and two trifectas over Doug McDermott. Butler rolled, faced up and hit a long-range bomb to register his first baskets. And Adebayo attacked Zach Collins in the lane for multiple finishes.

San Antonio’s Wembanyama made four of eight shots inside the arc but missed all six 3-point attempts in the first half, bailing out the Heat. He was defended by Adebayo, Kevin Love and Thomas Bryant, with a hint of 2-3 zone.

Miami cut the deficit to 50-53 at halftime, scoring 10 points off turnovers, seven on second chances and taking eight more shots at the line.

In the third quarter, Miami’s Beach Boy (Love) fired over Cedi Osman in the corner, pump-faked Wemby into oblivion at the top of the key to get free for a layup, and then hit another banger in the kid’s face on the left wing.

Yet, Miami’s 3-point defense slipped by unnecessarily helping away from the corners and losing track of the screener, off-setting its progress, as it permitted seven of 12 to fall.

In the fourth quarter, the Spurs converted its first four tries through PNR, a post-up and a lane jumper to regain an eight-point advantage. The Heat countered with 11 makes of its last 16 shots, engaging in a standoff 150 miles from the border.

Robinson schooled Wembanyama, blowing past him on the baseline for a layup in transition and faking him in the air for a left-wing triple. Additionally, Adebayo logged three elbow jumpers, a hook and a putback. And Richardson put down the Spurs with Miami’s last five points- a top-of-the-key jumper in front of Wembanyama and a fadeaway over Devin Vassell at the left hash mark.

Coach Erik Spoelstra’s Spoilers won 118-113, scoring 33 points off turnovers and 13 on second opportunities. Robinson finished with a season-high of 26 points on 50% shooting, with four assists and five rebounds. Adebayo had 24 points, 11 boards and six dimes.

Postgame, Robinson was interviewed on the court and said the Heat wanted to get greedy, winning two on the road. When asked about the work done on his handle, he added that he doesn’t want to be one-dimensional. “[I’m] just trying to grow as a player, be a little more dynamic than just shooting threes. Obviously, with guys out, too, responsibilities shift. [I’m] just trying to step in and then help us win.”

The Heat completed its second back-to-back set of the season, winning in Atlanta and San Antonio. The group failed in its first against Boston on Oct.27 and Minnesota on Oct. 28. Its record improved to 6-4.

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