A Wednesday night loss for the Miami Heat comes at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the Thunder outmatched the Heat, securing a 128-120 victory at Kaseya Center. The Heat had a quality start but collapsed in the second half due to inconsistencies on both ends.
Why the Heat lost: Thunder scores 63 second half points
The Heat continue to show instability in the second half. Miami’s not a high-scoring team, yet they’re making themselves play catch-up late in games. They’ve shown they can go head-to-head with anyone, but crunch time has been an issue.
OKC scored 63 points in the second half, gaining the largest lead of the game at 16 in the fourth quarter. They opened up the third on an 11-0 run, stealing the lead from Miami. They kept the lead for much of the third quarter and never looked back.
"I wish we didn't have halftime," Erik Spoelstra said. "We started out sluggish offensively to start the third and that just shifted the momentum just slightly. We gained it back toward the end of the third quarter, but there was a momentum shift at that point. That's where our mental mistakes defensively really started to kick in."
Miami looked sluggish out of the locker room. They got out-run by the up-tempo Thunder. Gilgeous Alexander scored 16 points in the second half, while Chet Holmgren scored 13 of his 23.
Top performer: Haywood Highsmith
One of the Heat’s top defenders turned his focus toward scoring against the Thunder. Haywood Highsmith recorded a new career-high with 19 points on the night, shooting 5 of 7 from three. Miami was finding Highsmith for much of the first half on open catch-and-shoot attempts.
He opened up the offense, with OKC having to spread defenders across the perimeter rather than load up in the paint. Highsmith was a big reason for Miami’s double-digit lead they held for a majority of the first half.
The Heat were leading by as many as 10 points, holding control in the first 24 minutes. Highsmith’s defense on Gilgeous-Alexander was the best on the team and his shooting was crucial, but it was absent in the fourth quarter. Highsmith went scoreless in the final 12 minutes.
Highlight of the game
The development of Nikola Jovic has been a long one for Miami, but it seems to be gaining traction. Jovic showed clear signs of improvement and confidence against the Thunder. He tallied 12 points, two assists, one block, and one steal in the first half alone.
This Jovic drive was a true teller in showing his refined skills under Spoelstra. He’s known to be a creative ball handler at 6-foot-10 but patience has been an issue for the young prospect. Jovic is starting to read defenses at a higher level, taking advantage of gaps with his size.
Jovic started the game as the main ball handler for Miami, with starting point guard Kyle Lowry sidelined due to injury. Spoelstra spoke on his development, mentioning his progress throughout the offseason slowly coming to the court.
"He's just made a lot of progress and his confidence is growing, as you can see," Spoelstra said. "He adds a different dimension to our team in terms of skill and size. We'll just continue to build on that."