MIAMI – Close games are becoming the norm for the Miami Heat.
Max Strus scored 19 points, Kyle Lowry added 18 points and nine assists, and the Heat got back to .500 by holding off the Minnesota Timberwolves 113-110 on Monday night.
It was Miami’s 34th game of the season — and half have been decided by five points or less. The Heat are 11-6 in such games.
“Since we’re in these kind of games every single night, there’s not a sense of panic,” coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Orlando Robinson scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds, seven of them on the offensive end for Miami — a big plus on the way to the Heat attempting 102 shots to Minnesota’s 79. Tyler Herro had 14 points for the Heat (17-17), who were without Jimmy Butler (ankle) and Bam Adebayo (illness).
Anthony Edwards led all scorers with 29 points for Minnesota (16-18). Naz Reid had 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who got 16 points from Jaden McDaniels, 13 from DeAngelo Russell, and 10 apiece from Austin Rivers and Rudy Gobert.
“We just need to keep our minds in the right place,” Gobert said.
Herro beat the shot clock with a long jumper with 33.2 seconds left — originally called a 3-pointer, then ruled a 2 — for a five-point lead. Edwards made a runner on the next Minnesota possession and got fouled but missed the free throw, keeping the margin three points.
Minnesota didn’t foul on the ensuing Miami trip, and forced Caleb Martin into a missed 3 with 2.5 seconds left. But the Timberwolves never got a shot off that could have tied the game, a turnover ensuring that Miami would escape.
“We’ve just got to be better throughout the course of the game, to ensure that we’re not in that position,” Reid said.
Miami was not only without Adebayo, but backup Dewayne Dedmon (left foot) was also out. That left rookie Nikola Jovic starting at center, and Robinson — on a two-way deal — backing him up.
“We had a lot of guys step up,” Strus said. “Orlando Robinson was huge tonight. Huge.”
Timberwolves: Alex Rodriguez, who grew up in Miami and has been to plenty of Heat games over the years, was courtside, as would be expected. He became part of the Timberwolves’ ownership group last year. ... Minnesota was again without Kyle Anderson (back spasms).
Heat: It was the 13th game Butler has missed this season, the fourth that Adebayo has missed and the second that they were both sidelined. Miami lost 107-106 at Washington without them on Nov. 18. ... Miami Hurricanes football coach Mario Cristobal and his family were in the crowd. ... Gabe Vincent (knee) played for the first time since Dec. 5 and scored 11 points. He missed nine games.
Heat guard Duncan Robinson’s first 3-pointer was the 800th of his career, and he got there faster than anyone else — 263 games, 25 fewer than Dallas star Luka Doncic needed. Robinson is now the fastest to 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700 and 800 career 3-pointers. Lauri Markkanen was the fastest to 100, needing only 41 games.
Robinson now has 802 career 3s, four behind Tim Hardaway’s Heat record.
Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said he checks on injured center Karl-Anthony Towns often, primarily just to ask about his well-being and not the progress of his calf injury. Towns hasn’t played since Nov. 28 and Monday was his 13th consecutive missed game. “He’s doing well, but still a multitude of weeks out for us,” Finch said.
Timberwolves: Visit the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday.
Heat: Host the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.