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Heat edge Timberwolves with tough defense

Dec 26, 2022; Miami, Florida, USA; Miami Heat guard Kyle Lowry (7) protects the ball from Minnesota Timberwolves guard Austin Rivers (25) during the first quarter at FTX Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Miami’s defense forced 22 turnovers, the last coming on Victor Oladipo’s steal in the closing seconds, and the host Heat held off the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves, 113-110, on Monday.

Playing without stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, Miami relied on its aggressive defense and complemented it with a balanced offense that proved to be enough to overcome a lackluster shooting night.

The Heat went just 47-of-102 from the floor, including 13-of-49 from 3-point range, but nine players scored between seven and 19 points.

Max Strus led the way with 19 points, including 5-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc. Strus was one of five Miami players to score in double figures. Kyle Lowry finished with 18 points and a game-high nine assists.

Tyler Herro added 14 points despite going ice-cold from 3-point territory at 0-of-8 for the game. Reserves Orlando Robinson and Gabe Vincent provided 15 and 11 points, powering Miami to a 45-32 advantage in bench points, despite a double-double of 21 points and 11 rebounds from Timberwolves reserve Naz Reid.

The Heat also had a 64-52 edge for points in the paint.

Anthony Edwards led all scorers with 29 points. Edwards, however, committed eight of Minnesota’s 22 turnovers, the last of which came on their final opportunity when Oladipo picked Jaden McDaniels’ pass to deny Minnesota a look at a potential overtime-forcing 3-pointer.

Minnesota shot 15-of-34 from deep and was better than 54 percent from the floor overall at 43-of-79, but the giveaways resulting in 23 fewer field-goal attempts ultimately doomed the Timberwolves.

Duncan Robinson and Nikola Jovic each scored nine points for the Heat, Caleb Martin went for eight points and eight rebounds, and Oladipo added seven.

McDaniels scored 16 points, D’Angelo Russell finished with 13 points and dished eight assists, and both Rudy Gobert and Austin Rivers scored 10 points in the loss.

-Field Level Media