Herro’s 31 points lead Heat over short-handed Wizards

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) passes the ball between Washington Wizards center Robin Lopez (15) and forward Davis Bertans (42) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass) (Nick Wass, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

WASHINGTON – The Miami Heat allowed 71 points in the first half to the short-handed Washington Wizards, and that was too much for coach Erik Spoelstra.

With Washington playing without its three leading scorers, the Heat picked up its intensity, held the Wizards to 15 points in the third quarter and won 128-124 on Saturday night.

Tyler Herro scored a career-high 31 points and Jimmy Butler nearly had a triple-double with 26 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

“Everybody could see it,”' Spoelstra said. “We were not defending with enough energy and connection. It was pretty obvious. It was just going back and forth. It almost felt like a pickup game in the first half. In the third quarter, it was much more committed defensively.”

Miami (4-4) has alternated wins and losses through its first eight games.

“This team has a very deep roster,” Herro said. “Any given night, anyone can score. I’m not really worried about the numbers.”

The Wizards (2-8) lost their third straight game and are winless in five home games.

Washington played without the NBA’s leading scorer, Bradley Beal, who was a late scratch when he was placed in the NBA’s Health and Safety Protocol.

“Found out maybe about an hour before the game,” coach Scott Brooks said. “On the one hand, it surprised me. On the other hand, this is what we kind of have to expect to happen. You hate for it to happen. You hope for the best, but don’t know the next step.”

They were also without their other starting guard, Russell Westbrook, out with a left quad injury. Westbrook, who had triple-doubles in his first four games with the Wizards, was intending to play the second half of a back-to-back for the first time after sitting out the first two.

Washington’s starting center, Thomas Bryant, suffered a left knee injury less than two minutes into the game, and didn’t return.

Brooks said Bryant would have an MRI on Sunday.

Garrison Mathews led the Wizards with 22 points. Deni Avdija scored 20.

The Heat, which led nearly all the way, outscored the Wizards 28-15 in the third quarter to take a 103-86 lead.

While the Heat’s lineup was familiar to fans who watched Miami’s surprising run to the NBA Finals in October, Washington’s lineup wasn’t as recognizable with Beal, Westbrook and Bryant out.

Jerome Robinson, who started in place of Beal, had scored 15 points in five games. He had 12 points Saturday night. Beal leads the NBA with an average of 35 points.