The Miami Heat are feeling a lot better now.
Miami, which plays host to the Houston Rockets on Monday night, entered this weekend in a bad mood. They had lost three consecutive games, drawing harsh words from team leader Jimmy Butler.
“We’re just being soft,” Butler said. “We’re not getting into bodies. We’re scared of some contact – soft overall.”
Butler also offered some tough love for Heat center Bam Adebayo, a 2020 All-Star who recently signed a five-year, $163 million extension.
“I want Bam to attack the rim because nobody can stay in front of him,” Butler said. “I love him shooting mid-range jumpers, too, but he lets people off the hook when he does that. Play bully ball. I like bully ball.”
Fresh off those comments, Adebayo hit a mid-range jumper – the kind that Butler criticized – that beat the Brooklyn Nets at the buzzer 109-107 on Sunday afternoon.
Butler was held out of Sunday’s game due to a sprained right ankle, and his status for Monday is questionable. He has missed 15 games this season.
The Heat still earned the victory, thanks to 21 points and a game-high 15 rebounds from Adebayo. The Heat also received strong performances from Goran Dragic (18 points, eight rebounds, seven assists), Kendrick Nunn (17 points) and Trevor Ariza (15 points, nine rebounds).
Miami, just 7-10 in its past 17 games, is hoping the victory over the Nets will give the team momentum for the stretch run. The Heat has 15 games remaining in the regular season, starting with the Rockets on Monday.
“A season can turn around in one game,” Adebayo said. “Crazier things have happened in this league.”
The Rockets did some winning of their own on Sunday night, snapping a five-game losing streak while defeating the host Orlando Magic 114-110.
The Rockets got 25 points and 10 rebounds from Christian Wood and 24 points from power forward Kelly Olynyk, a former member of the Heat. Wood has 17 double-doubles this season.
Olynyk has been playing well for the Rockets. He had 23 points on Friday in a 128-99 loss to the Denver Nuggets, and he spoke up after that defeat.
“We have to make a more concerted effort (on the boards),” Olynyk said. “We have to square ourselves up. We have to give ourselves every opportunity.”
The Rockets did that on Sunday. They went from minus-19 on rebounds against Denver to plus-seven (43-36) on the boards versus Orlando.
Houston trailed by as many as 12 points in Sunday’s first half. But the Rockets shot 51.2 percent from the floor from the game, including 16 of 34 on 3-pointers (47.1 percent).
Armoni Brooks came off the bench to shoot 5 of 6 on 3-pointers for the Rockets, and teammate Kevin Porter Jr. made 4 of 7 from deep.
The Rockets, who are listed as 10-point underdogs on Monday, will need all of their firepower to have a shot against the Heat. Houston should get a boost on Monday because standout point guard John Wall is expected to be back in the lineup. Rockets coach Stephen Silas said Wall was out on Sunday but due to rest, not injury.
–Field Level Media