Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press
Bam Adebayo’s buzzer-beater to give the Miami Heat a 109-107 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday stands out, but the play was only possible because the visitors didn’t score a single point after Kyrie Irving‘s free throws with 3:31 remaining.
“There was definitely some preventable plays out there, that I feel like we could have been better, including myself, down the stretch,” Irving told reporters while giving Miami credit for its effort.
The Nets didn’t score a single field goal in the final four minutes and let a game they appeared to be in control of against a fellow Eastern Conference playoff contender slip away.
Perhaps if Kevin Durant had been healthy, Brooklyn would have executed better down the stretch. Instead, the team announced he was ruled out of the game after he played just four minutes because of a left thigh contusion.
Irving tried to take over in crunch time without Durant and James Harden, but he missed three shots in the last 90 seconds. He highlighted those missed opportunities when speaking to reporters and accepted responsibility even though he finished with 20 points, nine assists, four rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
Landry Shamet poured in a game-high 30 points behind 7-of-12 shooting from three-point range, but that wasn’t enough to counter a balanced Heat attack with six players in double figures.
Brooklyn is still 38-19 and 2.5 games clear of the Milwaukee Bucks for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, although it fell 1.5 games back of the Philadelphia 76ers in the race for the top seed.
Next up is a showdown with Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday.