Two teams that might not recognize one another despite having gone head-to-head just 18 days ago meet in a rematch Friday night when the Miami Heat visit the Sacramento Kings.
Kendrick Nunn had 25 points as the Heat overcame 21 turnovers and a 106-83 deficit in shot attempts for a 118-113 overtime victory over the Kings when they dueled on Jan. 20 in Miami.
Miami was without All-Star Jimmy Butler that night because of a sore right hip, and will be without him again on Friday because of a strained right shoulder suffered in Wednesday’s 128-111 road loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Butler underwent an MRI exam on Thursday and the results were clean. Still, he might not play again prior to the All-Star break.
“Jimmy, the good news is his MRI came back clean,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters after Friday’s shootaround in Sacramento. “Right now, the next step is just treatment and rest, which he’s doing. And we’ll treat it day to day. We’ll see.
“We’re not sending him back (to Miami). That doesn’t mean he’ll play, necessarily. To me, those are always good signs.”
Coincidentally, help is on its way for the Heat, who on Thursday completed a six-player deal with Memphis, acquiring Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill from the Grizzlies for Dion Waiters, James Johnson and Justise Winslow.
“They want to win now,” Butler assured reporters of Miami’s decision-makers after Wednesday’s loss in Los Angeles. “That’s what I was told and that’s what they’re doing. I think they know what everybody is capable of in this locker room, myself included. And we’re ready to go to war.”
Iguodala, who has not played all season, is hopeful to make his Heat debut as early as Monday at Golden State, where he helped the Warriors win three championships in the past five seasons.
Crowder and Hill are healthy and ready to go, presuming there are no complications in physicals required to formally complete the trade.
The Sacramento stop is the second in a five-game Western swing for the Heat, with an additional stop in Atlanta on Feb. 20 in the final stop of an extended road trip.
If recent history is any indication, the stopover in Sacramento figures to be no vacation, either.
The Kings got big games from Nemanja Bjelica (22 points), Buddy Hield (20 points) and Marvin Bagley III (15 points, 15 rebounds) in the loss at Miami, a game in which the visitors chucked up a franchise-record 51 3-point attempts, making 13.
They’ve since added a couple of guys who are quite experienced in shooting 3-pointers in Kent Bazemore, acquired earlier in a trade with Portland, and Jabari Parker, who arrived from Atlanta at the trade deadline with Alex Len in exchange for Dewayne Dedmon.
Bazemore has averaged 7.3 points off the bench, shooting just 31 percent on 3-pointers, in his seven games since joining the Kings. Sacramento has won four of the seven games, including 113-109 over Minnesota on Monday in its most recent action.
Parker, who averaged a career-high 3.6 3-point attempts per game while with the Hawks, has been out since Jan. 3 with a right-shoulder injury. The Kings will get a better idea of when he can return after he arrives and gets his physical.
Len, on the other hand, could be pressed right into action, with the Kings currently missing Bagley, who has been bothered by a sore left foot.
In the short term, the veteran center could share time with Richaun Holmes, who is expected back Friday after missing 13 games with a strained right shoulder.
“We’ve missed Richaun,” Kings coach Luke Walton observed to the large contingent of news-seeking media that assembled at his club’s practice Thursday. “We’ve missed what he brings to our group. He’s had a heck of a year so far for us.”
Len is another 3-point shooting threat, having made 74 in 77 games last season with 36-percent accuracy.
–Field Level Media