EditorsNote: adds “on Friday” in lede; revises second and 12th grafs
Fill-in starter Bam Adebayo scored 20 of his game-high 22 points in the first half and added 10 rebounds, leading the Miami Heat to a 115-98 win over the host Phoenix Suns on Friday.
Miami reserve forward Justise Winslow added 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, including 4-of-4 on 3-point attempts. Winslow also grabbed eight rebounds and handed out six assists.
Adebayo replaced starting center Hassan Whiteside, who leads Miami with 13.7 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game but was not with the team as he awaited the birth of his first child.
Miami’s top 3-point shooter, Wayne Ellington, was also not with the team following the death of a grandparent.
However, the Heat got starting point guard Goran Dragic back after he missed eight games due to a right knee injury. Dragic had 11 points and a game-high 10 assists in 21 minutes as Miami started a six-game road trip. Miami was 3-5 in the eight games without Dragic, a former Suns star.
Phoenix was without its top two scorers: Devin Booker (23.5 points per game) and T.J. Warren (17.7). Booker has an injured left hamstring. Warren has a sore right ankle.
Suns point guard De’Anthony Melton, a 20-year-old rookie and a 2018 second-round pick, made his first career start, posting 12 points and four assists.
Phoenix started two other rookies: center Deandre Ayton, the first overall pick in the 2018 draft; and Mikal Bridges, the 10th overall pick. Ayton had 16 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Bridges had 12 points.
Miami evened its road record at 5-5, which is better than its 5-9 home mark.
Troy Daniels led the Suns with 18 points off the bench.
Phoenix, which has the worst record in the NBA at 4-22, lost its eighth straight game, the longest active skid in the league.
The Suns, who scored a combined total of just 18 points in their two previous first quarters, got off to a much better start against the Heat. Phoenix led 36-34 after the first, shooting 54.5 percent from the floor, including 5 of 8 from 3-point range.
The score was tied 45-45 with 3:52 left in the second quarter when Miami made a push. A short Dragic jumper created the 15th lead change of the first half, and Miami closed with a 60-50 lead at the break. Bridges stole Dragic’s dribble and hit a running 3-pointer at the buzzer to keep the Suns’ deficit at 10 points.
The Heat never trailed in the second half, leading 89-73 after three quarters and cruising to victory in the fourth.
—Field Level Media