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Heat left to await league sanctions after New Orleans brouhaha, as well as update on Herro knee

SACRAMENTO – It is back to playing the waiting game for the Miami Heat – both when it comes to NBA review of the melee during Friday night’s 106-95 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, as well as a formal diagnosis of the knee injury that sidelined guard Tyler Herro for the closing 100 seconds of that road win.

In each case, the ultimate assessments figures to be put on hold, with the Heat not in action again until Monday night against the Sacramento Kings, the second stop of this four-game trip.

Herro downplayed his injury in the immediate wake of the Friday victory that made it seven wins in the Heat’s last nine games.

“I think structurally everything was good,” Herro said after appearing to hyperextend his left knee when slipping on the court with 1:40 to play, heading immediately to the locker room.. “No major, even minor damage. I think everything is good.

“It just kind of scared me more than anything. It’s a little soreness. But I’ll see how I respond.”

The injury comes with the Heat having started the trip with guard Terry Rozier sidelined with a knee strain and guard Josh Richardson out with a shoulder dislocation.

“At least he was able to walk off the court,” said coach Erik Spoelstra, with the Heat flying Saturday from New Orleans to Sacramento.

While Richardson remains in a sling, Rozier worked during Friday morning’s shootaround, with the expectation of a return on the trip that also includes a Tuesday night game against the Portland Trail Blazers and Thursday night rematch of the 2023 NBA Finals against the Denver Nuggets.

The Heat also have the insurance of buyout-market addition Delon Wright, the combo guard who did not play in Friday night’s first game with the team but now has two additional days to acclimate.

As for who the league determines might also be out, it essentially will come down to video review of players who came off the bench after Heat center Kevin Love and Pelicans forward Zion Williamson became tangled when Love committed a foul to prevent a basket with 11:19 to play.

Love’s act was confirmed as a common foul after review, with Williamson afterward stressing he did not view it as overly aggressive.

“K-Love, he actually protected me on my fall,” Williamson said.

The referees agreed during their video review.

“The foul by Kevin Love did not meet the criteria for a Flagrant Foul 1 – there was no wind up, impact or follow-through,” crew chief Curtis Blair said in a pool report.

Others did not immediately view it as benign, with Heat forward Jimmy Butler and Pelicans forward Naji Marshall skirmishing, and with Heat center Thomas Bryant and Pelicans guard Jose Alvarado mixing it up along the sideline. All four were elected.

“Butler and Marshall engaged in physical contact which escalates the altercation,” Blair said. “Alvarado and Bryant engaged in a physical altercation that continued the altercation.”

Blair also made clear that the officiating crew’s actions were solely based on acts during the scuffle, not judgements on potential suspensions.

“It is not our decision,” he said. “It is up to the league office to determine if they left their respective benches.”

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Leaving the bench area during such an incident is an automatic one-game suspension, a reality the Heat have dealt with numerous times over their 36 seasons.

For his part, Spoelstra called the ensuing actions largely an overreaction.

“I think it was a misunderstanding on the play,” Spoelstra said. “I honestly think Zion slipped on the play when K-Love grabbed him. And it looked a lot worse than what it was. And then everybody kind of overheated to that point. I think they interpreted that K-Love threw him down, which I think K-Love’s best day, I don’t think he can throw him down. K-Love and Zion didn’t have anything going on with him. K-Love I think helped him up and then it was unfortunate from that point.

“And it escalated and we’ll just see what happens from the league. But I think everybody’s intentions were right at first. But you get a bunch of competitive people out there and it kind of boiled over.”

As for his ensuing act, Butler, who played to the crowd before retreating to the locker room, appreciated that a fine likely will be forthcoming.

“I put my hand around his neck, he put his hand around my neck, and it just took off the way it did,” Butler said.