Apparently 2023 is going to resemble the end of 2022 in at least one respect for the Miami Heat: No lead is safe.
This time a 21-point lead in the first half and an 18-point edge at the intermission. And then trailing in the third quarter and start of the fourth.
So, yes, perhaps load up again on the anxiety meds.
But there also is the Heat relief of being two games above .500 for the first time this season, with Monday night’s 110-100 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers at Crypto.Com Arena lifting them to 20-18.
Winning for the eighth time in 11 games, the Heat were powered by 31 points and 13 rebounds from center Bam Adebayo, with Tyler Herro adding 23 points and Victor Oladipo 15.
Those efforts were needed with Jimmy Butler limited to nine points and Kyle Lowry to six.
Paul George led the Clippers, who were without Kawhi Leonard, with 25 points.
Five Degrees of Heat from Monday’s game:
1. Closing time: The Heat led 34-28 at the end of the first quarter, pushed their lead to 21 in the second period and went into halftime up 67-59. But with the Clippers stringing together a 24-2 third-quarter, the Clippers went into the fourth up 83-81.
The Heat then opened the fourth quarter to move to an 88-83 lead, with a Herro 3-pointer late putting them up 101-95 with 4:28 to play and an Adebayo putback dunk making the lead 103-95 with 3:40 to play.
The lead was nursed from there, with the Clippers without a timeout for the final 3:06.
2. Bam boom: Adebayo opened 6 of 7 from the field, thriving in the lane, including on the short roll from Herro, and kept going from there, again the fulcrum of the offense, positively with a bounce in his step.
The game was Adebayo’s 50th in a row scoring in double figures, five games off the longest such streak of his career.
The double-double moved Adebayo past Udonis Haslem and into sole possession of fourth place on that Heat all-time list.
3. Oladipo again: Oladipo followed up his season-high 23 points on Saturday night in Utah with another solid effort as the first wing off the bench, at 11 points at the intermission.
Oladipo consistently was in attack mode, the Heat no longer attempting to merely buy time when Butler and Herro are out of the game.
4. Closer to whole: For only the 13th time this season, the Heat opened with their preferred starting lineup of Adebayo, Caleb Martin, Butler, Herro and Lowry. The Heat entered 5-7 with those five starting.
Martin had been listed as questionable with a quad strain earlier in the day, having missed the previous two games.
He played only his initial stints at the start of each half.
5. Less than whole: The Clippers were without Leonard due to an illness. He previously missed the first of the teams’ two games as part of what the team listed as knee management.
Like the Heat, the Clippers have been limited this season with their prime alignment, with only 14 games with Leonard and George in action together.
George briefly left the court in the fourth quarter to get his thigh wrapped.