Shooters are streaky by nature.
The Miami Heat’s Duncan Robinson and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Luguentz Dort each started the season in an offensive slump.
Heading into Monday night’s meeting between their teams in Oklahoma City, they are starting to snap out of it.
Robinson has a bigger reputation as an outside shooter, so his struggles had been more evident. In the first three seasons of his career, Robinson shot 42.3% on 3-pointers and 64.3% from inside the arc.
But through his first 12 games this season, Robinson was shooting just 31.2% from beyond the arc and just 42.9% from inside.
In Saturday’s 111-105 win at Utah, Robinson was 6 of 11 from behind the 3-point line, scoring 22 to help Miami to victory.
“It’s one thing to miss shots, but it’s another thing to miss shots and feel like doing something different could change the outcome of a game,” Robinson said, referring to Miami’s back-to-back losses in Los Angeles prior to Saturday’s win. “After going through those two, part of me is impervious to missing. Just go out there, let it fly.
“I do get negative on myself, but it’s a competitive (reaction), kind of like I expect more. But that’s when I kind of lean on other people to pull me out of that.”
Robinson credited his teammates, especially Jimmy Butler, for keeping him in a positive frame of mind during his slump.
“There’s never been a waver in confidence in my ability,” Robinson said. “It’s not like I forgot how to shoot. It’s going to come back around, and we should expect more of this for sure.”
The Heat remain without Markieff Morris, who will miss his fourth game with a neck injury since Denver’s Nikola Jokic shoved him from behind Nov. 8. Victor Oladipo still hasn’t played this season after having right quadriceps tendon surgery in May.
Butler, Miami’s leading scorer, is questionable after missing the last two games with a sprained right ankle, while Bam Adebayo, Miami’s leading rebounder, is listed as probable with a bruised knee.
Dort, meanwhile, has built his reputation on the defensive end.
Through his first nine games of the season, Dort was shooting just 22.4% on 3-pointers. In the Thunder’s last three games, Dort has averaged 23 points per game and gone 7 of 21 from beyond the arc.
“I don’t want to oversimplify it, but he obviously got off to a start shooting the ball from three that is just below what you would expect for him, which I think happens throughout the course of the season,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. “There’s a variance in shooting, and he’s starting to see some fall now.”
Dort’s outside shooting makes him more effective near the basket, Daigneault added.
“He has been aggressive on the drives, he’s done a nice job,” Daigneault said. “We need him to be aggressive.”
The game is the last of a five-game road trip for the Heat, and the third of a four-game homestand for the Thunder.