Bam Adebayo's biggest night of his young career nearly completed a comeback for the Miami Heat over the Brooklyn Nets and their three stars.
The Nets seek better ways at stopping Adebayo and another win over the Heat Monday night when the teams reconvene in New York.
Brooklyn rebounded from a pair of disappointing 12-point losses in Cleveland by never trailing and getting a 128-124 win on Saturday when Adebayo scored a career-best 41 points, surpassing his previous regular season career-high by 11 points. While Adebayo made 14 of 20 shots to help Miami nearly erase an 18-point deficit and a 14-point deficit entering the fourth, he scored on just one free throw in the final 5:29 of the game.
"For me, I'm nothing but a supporter of Bam's and I'm glad we got the win," Brooklyn guard Kyrie Irving said.
Adebayo's points were the most for the Heat since Dwyane Wade scored 42 on Dec. 17, 2014, against the Utah Jazz. It also earned some admiration from Irving, a New Jersey native, whose father helped fund Adebayo's New Jersey AAU team.
"It was about time Bam had 40 in terms of getting a lot of those moves he's been working on in the offseason," Irving said. "I've known Bam since he was 15 or 16 years old, so just watching him grow since high school and watching him take over at this point for kind of an undermanned Miami team, it's good to see."
The Nets were able to overcome Adebayo's big night by getting 31 points from Kevin Durant along with Irving scoring 18 of his 28 in the fourth quarter. Durant posted his seventh 30-point game on a night when the Nets topped 120 points for the 11th time, shot 53.7 percent, tied a season high with 19 3-pointers and handed out a season-high 34 assists.
Brooklyn's latest high-scoring performance occurred in the second game Irving, Durant and Harden played together. The trio combined for 96 points Wednesday and Saturday combined for 71 with Harden getting 11 assists.
"It was effort, things we can control," Irving said of the difference between the losses in Cleveland. "We just wanted to take this game personally."
Miami's inability to capitalize on Adebayo's big night and complete the comeback sent them to their second straight loss where they never led and their fifth loss in seven games. The Heat used their 11th different starting lineup by starting Moe Harkless but he injured his left leg in the second quarter and may be out for the rematch.
If Harkless is out, it means Miami will likely be missing five rotation players. Jimmy Butler and Avery Bradley are out due to health and safety protocols while Tyler Herro (neck) and Meyers Leonard (strained left shoulder) will also be out.
Whatever lineup combinations appear, the Heat will try to correct some of the defensive issues from the past seven games. While Adebayo is averaging 25 points in his last five games, the Heat are allowing 117.1 points and 48.4 percent shooting in those seven games.
"We're just going through a rough patch right now," Adebayo said. "We're trying to figure it out."