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Bam Adebayo drains 3-pointer at buzzer to push shorthanded Heat past Pistons 104-101

Bam Adebayo drains 3-pointer at buzzer to push shorthanded Heat past Pistons 104-101

DETROIT — This time, with meaning.

This time, when least expected.

Bam Adebayo’s newfound 3-point threat?

Never more meaningful.

Never more dramatic.

Draining a 3-pointer as the clock expired, Adebayo salvaged the day for the Miami Heat on Sunday at Little Caesars Arena, in a dramatic 104-101 victory over the Detroit Pistons that provided a needed boost to the Heat’s playoff chances.

“It was,” Adebayo said, “one of those moments.”

That it was, the 31-foot shot the longest conversion of Adebayo’s seven-year career.

“Sometimes,” coach Erik Spoelstra said, “there’s a karma to it and the ball just happens to find the guy who’s doing the most.”

Which Adebayo arguably did, closing with 20 points and 17 rebounds.

So instead of blowing a 17-point second-half lead, the Heat made it consecutive victories after a four-game losing streak.

It was an afternoon when it appeared teammate Duncan Robinson would be the Heat’s shooting star.

Converting five 3-pointers in his 21-point first half, Robinson helped set the stage for the Heat to compensate for the injury absences of Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, Nikola Jovic and Kevin Love.

Robinson closed with 30 points, shooting 7 of 12 on 3-pointers. Terry Rozier added 17 points for the Heat.

Next up is a Monday night showdown for playoff seeding against the Philadelphia 76ers, the third game on this four-game trip that concludes Wednesday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The expectation is that Butler returns against the 76ers from the bruised right foot that kept him out Sunday, with Jovic less likely to be back from his hamstring strain.

Five Degrees of Heat from Sunday’s game:

1. Winning moment: The Pistons were in position in a 101-101 tie to run the clock out, after gaining possession on an Evan Fournier steal with 23.7 seconds to play.

Instead, with the shot clock off, Pistons guard Cade Cunningham opted for a stepback 3-pointer with nine seconds to play, an errant attempt rebounded by Rozier.

That’s when the Heat elected to play in transition, with a timeout available.

“That final stop, it’s that age old-question: ‘You take a timeout or not?'” Spoelstra said. “I don’t think it would have been as open as this one.

“Was I anticipating it would be a Bam trail three? No.”

Adebayo, who now has made a 3-pointer in three consecutive games for the first time in his career, did not know what to expect, as he trailed in transition.

“Clock winding down, Terry threw me the ball, spot I’ve been making lately,” he said of the moments before his splashdown.

And then pandemonium,

2. Closing time: The Pistons led 23-21 after the first quarter, with the Heat then taking a 60-50 lead into halftime, courtesy of a 39-point second period.

The Heat then went up 17 in the third period, only to see Detroit close the quarter on a 16-2 run to move within 79-76 entering the fourth.

The Heat then went up nine early in the fourth, only to see long-time nemesis Fournier help draw Detroit into a 90-90 tie.

An Adebayo dunk and a Robinson 3-pointer then pushed the Heat to a five-point lead.

From there, a stepback 3-pointer by Cunningham got the Pistons within 97-96 at the start of a wild sequence that saw Robinson convert a 3-pointer on the other end, draw a foul and complete the four-point play for a 101-96 Heat lead with 2 minutes to play.

From there, an Isaiah Steward 3-pointer drew the Pistons within 101-99.

Adebayo then appeared to counter with a layup, but the basket was nullified upon review by a shot-clock violation, leaving the Heat up two with 51.1 seconds to play.

A Cunningham layup then tied it with 42 seconds to play.

Then the turnover that led to Cunningham’s rushed shot.

And then Adebayo’s winner.

“We’re just glad to get this W,” Spoelstra said.

3. No. 1,000, and more: Robinson’s first 3-pointer, 1:25 into the game, put him at 1,000 for his career and made him the fastest to that milestone, doing it in his 343rd game. Fastest to 1,000 had been Buddy Hield at 350 games. Next fastest to 1,000 were Luka Doncic (351), Donovan Mitchell (355) and Stephen Curry (369).

“Got it in a win, which was awesome,” Robinson said. “Shout out to Bam for that.”

Robinson also had been the NBA’s fastest player to 900, 800, 700, 600, 500, 400, 300 and 200 career 3-pointers.

“We can put it to an end now,” Robinson said with a smile. “I don’t need to hear about 1,100.”

4. And another one: Make it a franchise-record 32 starting lineups, with the Heat this time opening with Robinson, Adebayo, Rozier, Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Haywood Highsmith.

The franchise record of 31 lineups was set in the 2014-15 season, when the Heat were adjusting from the offseason loss of LeBron James and the blood clots that sidelined Chris Bosh at midseason.

It was the 25th start for Highsmith and the 18th start for Jaquez.

The Heat had 11 available players, with Josh Richardson out for the season following shoulder surgery and with Cole Swider and Alondes Williams on G League assignment.

5. Anything goes: The Heat’s rotation got so convoluted that at one point in the second quarter they fielded a backcourt of Patty Mills and Delon Wright, which just over a week ago wasn’t even a thing, with both added off the buyout market.

It was the first playing time since Feb. 29 for Wright, who had lost his minutes to Mills.

Wright was solid in his minutes, active defensively in the Heat’s zone, but struggled to finish at the rim.

Spoelstra praised Wright, Highsmith and Thomas Bryant for their support.

“Those guys were so important,” he said. “If they didn’t have the contributions they had, we’re not winning this game on the road.”