The Miami Heat, historically one of the NBA’s least effective teams in the fourth quarter this season, found success in the final period against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night at Kaseya Center. Despite a shaky track record in the fourth quarter, the Heat managed to maintain a two-point lead entering the fourth quarter and eventually sealed a 122-113 victory over the Atlanta Hawks (12-16). With this win, the Heat (17-12) secured their fifth victory in the last seven games, elevating their standing to five games above .500 for only the second time this season.
Tyler Herro, the Heat guard, remarked on the team’s journey throughout the season, noting their struggles in the fourth quarter as a significant obstacle that needed overcoming. However, their performance in this game against the Hawks marked a step forward in the right direction for the team.
Despite missing star player Jimmy Butler for the second consecutive game due to a strained left calf, the Heat excelled in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Hawks 34-27. This victory in the final period was a rarity for the Heat, as they entered the game with the NBA’s lowest fourth-quarter net rating this season.
Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro spearheaded the Heat’s fourth-quarter offensive surge, collectively contributing 30 of the team’s 34 points in that period. Robinson, in particular, had a remarkable performance, scoring 21 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter. He displayed exceptional accuracy, shooting 6 of 7 from the field, 2 of 3 from beyond the arc, and a perfect 7 of 7 from the free-throw line during the period.
Robinson’s outstanding fourth-quarter performance earned him a spot among a select group of NBA players who have scored 21 or more points in a single fourth quarter this season. His achievement places him alongside renowned names like Giannis Antetokounmpo, LaMelo Ball, De’Aaron Fox, Anfernee Simons, and James Harden. Furthermore, Robinson’s feat also distinguishes him as the fourth Heat player in franchise history, joining the ranks of Dwyane Wade, Kyle Lowry, and Jimmy Butler, to score 21 or more points in a fourth quarter.
Herro, the other key contributor in the final period, added nine of his team-high 30 points in the fourth quarter. Herro showcased an impressive all-around performance, concluding the game with seven rebounds, two assists, and one steal.
Coach Erik Spoelstra commended the effective partnership between Herro and Robinson, highlighting their impact on both offense and defense during crucial stretches in the game. The Heat notably outscored the Hawks by 10 points in the 12 minutes when Herro and Robinson were on the court together, a significant improvement from their previous minus 3 in 139 minutes of joint play earlier in the season.
The Heat’s journey to secure the game-deciding fourth quarter was eventful. They began with a strong start, securing a 15-3 lead by scoring the first nine points of the game. However, the Hawks fought back, capitalizing on three-point shooting to reduce the deficit and even take the lead during the third quarter.
Yet, the Heat responded with a remarkable comeback of their own, closing the third quarter with a 26-13 run to reclaim the lead, setting the stage for Robinson’s heroics in the final period.
Alongside Robinson and Herro’s impressive performances, Bam Adebayo contributed significantly with 18 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, and two steals. Jaime Jaquez Jr. added 19 points, seven rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one block, while Caleb Martin chipped in with 11 points, eight rebounds, two assists, one steal, and one block, providing the Heat with a well-rounded offensive display featuring five double-digit scorers.
The Heat’s next challenge comes in the form of a Christmas Day matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday at Kaseya Center. The Heat holds a remarkable 11-2 all-time record in Christmas Day games, aiming to continue their success in this festive encounter.
Five key takeaways emerged from the Heat’s victory over the Hawks:
1. Miami Heat maintains its stellar three-point shooting, leading the NBA with a 39.4 percent success rate from beyond the arc. Against the Hawks, they shot an impressive 43.6 percent from three-point range, with Tyler Herro sinking a team-high seven threes on 13 attempts, while Duncan Robinson closed with four successful three-pointers out of seven attempts.
2. Tyler Herro’s return from injury has been remarkable. Despite missing 18 consecutive games due to a right ankle sprain, Herro has seamlessly resumed his exceptional form. In his first three games back from injury, Herro is averaging an impressive 27.7 points per game, shooting 55.4 percent from the field and 50 percent from three-point range. These performances have showcased career-best numbers for Herro, who has been a key contributor in his fifth NBA season.
3. Hawks star Trae Young continues to make history, extending his streak to six consecutive games with at least 30 points and 10 assists. Young’s feat joins him with NBA legend Oscar Robertson as the only two players in league history to achieve this milestone. His consistency and impressive performances continue to be a highlight for the Hawks.
4. Despite an injury scare involving Kyle Lowry, who briefly limped off the court in the second half due to a right ankle tweak, the Heat managed to avoid significant injuries in the game. Lowry returned to the game later and concluded the night with three points, four rebounds, and three assists in 22 minutes of play. However, the Heat played without key rotation player Jimmy Butler, who remains day-to-day with a strained left calf.
5. Miami Heat continues its trend of performing strongly against teams with losing records, boasting a 13-4 record this season in such matchups. However, their performance against winning teams has been less impressive, standing at 4-8. The Heat’s upcoming schedule features matchups against several teams with winning records, providing them with opportunities to improve their record against quality opponents.
As the Heat prepares for upcoming challenging matchups, their recent victory against the Hawks signifies progress in overcoming fourth-quarter struggles and displays their resilience in navigating through a competitive NBA season.