The Heat summer league juggernaut finally lost a game Wednesday, but Miami still has a good chance to advance to the Las Vegas tournament’s Round of Eight beginning Saturday.
But the more important development in Wednesday’s 90-87 loss to Minnesota was the continued good work of guards Kendrick Nunn and at least initially, Tyler Herro.
Nunn, the Heat’s most consistent player in summer league, again was very good, hitting his first seven shots in a 17-point first half and closing with 28 points on 13 for 20 shooting and adding six rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Twice in the closing five minutes, Nunn scored baskets to put the Heat ahead. And he converted a steal into a dunk to tie the game with 18 seconds left.
“Offensively, defensively, he rises to occasions,” Heat summer league coach Eric Glass said. “He’s been dogging point guards all summer league. He’s been doing a really good job overall.”
But Nunn’s difficult in-bounds pass to Herro was poked away with one second left, and Minnesota hit a free throw to account for the final margin.
Herro celebrated the signing of a four-year, $17.2 million contract by hitting his first three shots -- all three-pointers - but scored only two points on 1 for 7 shooting in the second half to close with 15.
He finished 6 for 14 overall, including 3 for 7 on threes, with three assists, two rebounds and a steal in 31 minutes.
“Very excited to sign my first contract,” he said.
Duncan Robinson (13 points) struggled with his shot, finishing 4 for 15.
Yante Maten came on strong late, finishing with 12 points and 9 rebounds but also committing the foul that led to Minnesota’s game-winning free throws in the final seconds.
Meanwhile, the Heat lost starting forward Chris Silva, the undrafted South Carolina rookie, with a left knee sprain sustained in the third quarter. He will be re-evaluated Thursday, with the Heat now likely off for two days.
Silva was scoreless in seven minutes.
The Heat again opted not to play Stanford rookie forward KZ Okpala, who is still familiarizing himself with Miami’s system after joining the team July 6.
Heat players Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo cheered their teammates from the bench, and the Heat contingent in Las Vegas again included president Pat Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra.
Miami is now 3-1 in Las Vegas and 6-1 overall this summer. The Heat - which doesn’t play Thursday - will learn on Thursday night whether it will make the round of eight, but that’s likely.
Here’s my Wednesday piece with an update on the Russell Westbrook situation and an obstacle that must be overcome.
Here’s my Wednesday piece with details on Tyler Herro’s Heat contract.
Here’s my Wednesday piece on the Heat once again becoming attractive to stars, and NBA people explaining why that’s not surprising.