Heat’s Rozier back up to speed after swift recovery from knee injury; Herro upgraded to questionable, but Love out

DENVER — There were times during Tuesday night’s 106-96 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center when Terry Rozier had to pause to wait for teammates after furiously pushing the ball up the court.

The speed element of the Miami Heat’s game is back.

So is Rozier, who has become a study of hurry up and get into offense, and a study of hurry up and get back on the court.

Sidelined since spraining his right knee in the Feb. 11 home loss to the Boston Celtics, Rozier wound up missing only four games before his Tuesday return, benefiting from the Heat’s eight-day All-Star break.

Quick healer. Fast player.

To coach Erik Spoelstra, a win-win proposition.

“I love his motor, and I think that’s going to get better,” Spoelstra said, with the Heat concluding their four-game trip Thursday in an NBA Finals rematch against the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena. “Right before he got hurt, the motor was like already getting to where we want it to. And he has that speed. He has the quick twitch. And he has an ability to break the defense down, or at least get a defense to overreact. And when you have multiple guys who are weapons like that, it’s good for your offense.

“I also just really respect how much time he put into this to be able to get back and kind of fast-track this. It was All-Star break, when everybody else was off, and he was doing three-a-days, just to hopefully give him a chance to be ready earlier. He passed the protocols and that happened and that’s a credit to his work ethic.”

Rozier acknowledged there was concern of something more significant as he was helped off the court during that loss to Boston at Kaseya Center.

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“I mean,” he said, “just up until I got my MRI, I thought it was pretty serious.”

Then he got serious about pushing back so he could get back to pushing the pace.

“I feel good,” he said. “Credit to the medical staff. They did a great job in just making sure I got back and making sure I’m fully healthy before I got out there.

“We didn’t want to rush anything. I’m happy to be back, for sure. So hopefully we can just stay healthy for the rest of the season.”

The 29-year-old veteran certainly wasn’t bashful in his return, closing with a team-high 14 shots as the Heat made it nine victories in their last 11 games, entering Thursday on a five-game overall winning streak and a six-game road winning streak.

“We need him to shoot those shots,” forward Jimmy Butler said. “We need him to get up as many attempts as possible. When he sees a couple go in, he’s very, very ignitable.”

Herro questionable

Guard Tyler Herro, who has missed the past two games with a hyperextended left knee sustained late in Friday’s victory over the New Orleans Pelicans at the start of this trip, has been upgraded to questionable for Thursday against the Nuggets.

Initially listed as questionable was forward Kevin Love, with the bruised right heel sustained when attempting to draw a charge Tuesday in Portland. His status later was changed to being out Thursday.

Center Orlando Robinson, who had missed time with back spasms, has been upgraded to probable, and could prove necessary with Love out.

Out again for the Heat are Josh Richardson (shoulder), Thomas Bryant (suspension), Jamal Cain (G League), Cole Swider (G League) and Dru Smith (knee).

Alternate approach

In Monday night’s victory over the Sacramento Kings, when guard Duncan Robinson couldn’t make a shot on a 1-of-11 night from the field, he turned playmaker, with a career-high 11 assists. Tuesday night, it was back to stretching the floor, closing 4 of 6 on 3-pointers as part of the Heat’s 14 of 26 from beyond the arc.

“I think that shows the versatility and development of his game,” Spoelstra said, “that he was able to make the read of this game was different than last game.

“(Monday) night, the passing was necessary,” Spoelstra said. “(Tuesday) night, the passing was leading to some turnovers. So we were just telling him, ‘Hey, just shoot the ball. Keep it simple.’ ”

The Heat closed with 20 turnovers in Portland.

Stepping up

Both of the Heat two-way players sent to the G League Sioux Falls Skyforce had quality performances in a 122-120 road victory Tuesday night over the Los Angeles Lakers’ affiliate.

Forward Cole Swider closed with 26 points and 10 rebounds, shooting 5 of 10 on 3-pointers. Forward Jamal Cain finished with 21 points and 15 rebounds, making all three of his 3-point attempts.

Guard Jmaree Bouyea, who previously has spent time with the Heat, finished with 36 points and 15 assists for the Skyforce.