In preparation for their game on Monday against the Utah Jazz, the Miami Heat now have point guard Kyle Lowry back from the injured list.
Lowry, who hadn’t played since Feb. 2 because of a problem with his left knee, played 36 minutes on Saturday when Miami lost to the Orlando Magic 126-114 in overtime. Lowry hit 4 of 8 shots, including 3 of 6 3-pointers, and had 12 points, 4 assists, and 2 steals.
Lowry had not played as a reserve in ten years.
Despite Jimmy Butler’s strong performance on Saturday, when he scored 38 points, the Heat have lost four of their last seven games. He hit 14 of his 25 shots from the floor and 8 of his 8 shots from behind the arc.
Miami will play Utah for the first time on Monday, after defeating Utah 126-123 on New Year’s Eve.
Due to a knee injury, Butler was unable to play in that game; however, Heat starters Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro, in addition to backup Victor Oladipo, took his place.
Oladipo finished with 23 points, Adebayo had a game-high 32 points, Herro had 29 points and a team-high nine rebounds, and Adebayo had a game-high 32 points. Herro hit a one-leg three-pointer at the buzzer that won the game.
However, the Jazz are rebuilding in the West while the Heat are 22-13 at home and seventh in the Eastern Conference race for a playoff spot.
Nonetheless, Utah entered Sunday’s game in 10th place in the Western Conference, which would place the Jazz in the play-in round. This season, the Jazz are 13-22 on the road.
The Jazz, who have a new coach in 35-year-old Will Hardy and a rebuilt roster, put together an impressive performance. Hardy took over for Quin Snyder, who left after eight seasons.
Danny Ainge, a former executive with the Boston Celtics who was hired by Utah in December 2021, started a huge rebuilding project this offseason by trading Royce O’Neal. Since then, Ainge has traded Rudy Gobert, a three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Donovan Mitchell, a four-time All-Star, Mike Conley, and other players for eight first-round draft picks, three pick swaps, and 13 players.
Talen Horton-Tucker, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard who scored 37 points in Utah’s 119-111 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday, now leads the roster. Horton Exhaust made 14 of 24 shots from the floor, remembering 2 of 5 for 3-pointers.
Lauri Markkanen, 25, who leads the Jazz in scoring (25.4 points) and rebounds (8.5), is one of several young players with notable experience. and 7-1 center Walker Kessler, 21, who averages 8.5 points and 8.1 rebounds and leads the team in blocks (2.3).
These three players were acquired by Utah in recent Ainge trades.