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Warriors beat depleted Heat to regain footing

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Warriors beat depleted Heat to regain footing

MIAMI — Draymond Green said it best after the Warriors’ Sunday night loss in Minnesota. Losing too many games against teams you should beat isn’t going to get you very far in the NBA.

The Warriors have lost too many games against undermanned teams. Against teams they built up big leads against, but failed to bury. Against opponents without the star power or championship pedigree they have.

“If you lose the ones you’re supposed to win, you’re in for a long year,” Green said.

Golden State faced another one of those short-staffed teams in the Kaseya Center, as the hosting Heat were missing five rotation players.

This time, the Warriors (37-34) took care of business. Klay Thompson, re-inserted into the starting lineup for Brandin Podziemski, hit six 3s and scored a game-high 28 as Golden State held off Miami, then ran away with a 113-92 victory.

Golden State lost three of four games entering Tuesday and claimed only a half-game lead on the surging Rockets, so the win provides at least a gasp of breathing room in the standings.

Stealing games while short-handed has been the Heat’s modus operandi. They’ve been doing it for years. Their culture, which has been proven true through several deep, unexpected playoff runs recently, demands the sort of next-man-up mentality every coach tries to instill. Their paints in the Kaseya Center reads, in all caps, “Hardest Working. Best conditioned. Most professional. Unselfish. Toughest. Meanest. Nastiest team in the NBA.”

And it’s not even entirely fugazi marketing.

Earlier this year, the Heat beat Golden State without star Jimmy Butler. This time, they were without Butler, Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Josh Richardson and Kevin Love.

“We’re not falling for that trick,” Steve Kerr said when asked pregame about Miami’s short-handed roster. “We’ve fallen for that trick too many times in the past…Don’t let your guard down.”

The Warriors charged out on a 13-5 run and hit eight of their first 11 shots, but the Heat battled back. Like they tend to do.

Chris Paul committed consecutive turnovers, then didn’t push the ball up the court quickly enough for an eight-second violation. With Curry on the bench and Trayce Jackson-Davis (sore right knee) unavailable, their offensive options dwindled. Miami won the first period by two.

Miami toggled through variations of zone defenses and full court pressures, forcing Golden State to adjust on the fly.

It was nothing the experienced Warriors hadn’t seen before, and they had counters. Still, they played even in the second quarter as Haywood Highsmith wreaked havoc and Bam Adebayo provided consistent offense. Klay Thompson led all scorers at half with 15 in his return to the starting lineup.

Like they did to start the game, the Warriors opened the second half on a sprint. Thompson canned another 3, Andrew Wiggins crossed into double digits and Jonathan Kuminga threw down an alley-oop for a 15-6 run.

The Heat didn’t break, but Golden State still entered the fourth quarter with an 85-75 lead. With Steph Curry at 24 minutes and the Warriors trying to conserve his load, they’d have to hold on for long stretches without their superstar.



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