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Bam Adebayo and Heat overwhelm Thunder, dealing OKC third consecutive home loss

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Recap: Heat 115, Thunder 108 Five takeaways from the Thunder's 115-108 loss to the Heat Thunder's first-quarter slump continues in 115-108 loss to Heat Thunder vs. Trail Blazers lineups, tip-off time and TV info

Nerlens Noel thought he recorded a clean block. Billy Donovan agreed.

But referee Scott Wall blew his whistle and called a foul, much to the delight of Miami forward Bam Adebayo and to the dismay of those in Thunder blue.

Even with Noel playing at peak form Friday night in his return from injury, Adebayo and the Heat frustrated the Thunder in Miami’s 115-108 win at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Donovan was issued a technical as he argued the call on Noel early in the third quarter. The Heat led 70-56 after another slow start by the Thunder. Noel swatted Adebayo’s shot with his left hand, but Noel’s right hand appeared to make contact with Adebayo.

Adebayo, a frontrunner for Most Improved Player of the Year, was too strong for a Thunder team that is less than full strength at center. Noel started Friday night, his first game back since spraining his left ankle Jan. 4. Steven Adams was out with a right knee contusion.

Noel scored seven points in the first two minutes Friday night. His first bucket was a corner 3-pointer, his first 3-pointer since the 2015-16 season and just the second of his career. Noel finished with 10 points, six rebounds and three blocks in 21 minutes.

“I thought Nerlens did a good job,” Donovan said. “You could see a little bit, maybe his wind. But overall, start him, let him play, he’ll get back into rhythm the more he’s out there playing. But I’m happy he’s playing, happy he’s back.”

Adebayo, Noel’s primary matchup, scored 21 points with eight rebounds and five assists. The 6-foot-9 forward led fastbreaks and coordinated Miami’s offense through the high post. He denied Thunder opportunities at the rim and was comfortable switching onto smaller guards beyond the arc.

“He’s developed a lot,” Thunder guard and former Kentucky teammate Hamidou Diallo said of Adebayo. “Seeing how hard he worked at Kentucky, he’s probably still working as hard. He’s only gonna keep getting better.”

As much as Adebayo frustrated the Thunder, so too did the Heat’s zone defense, particularly in the first half.

Miami’s youth starred on the offensive end. Rookie Kendrick Nunn, second-year player Duncan Robinson and Adebayo, in his third season, scored 22, 14 and 21 points.

Adebayo was strong down low, but Donovan credited Miami’s perimeter game. The Heat shot 6-of-7 from 3-point range in the first quarter and finished 14-of-36 from deep.

“He’s a really skilled big man,” Donovan said of Adebayo, “but I think the one thing that opens things up for them is they’ve got really, really good perimeter shooting. They have guys who can make a lot of catch-and-shoot shots. You’re constantly stretched.”

The Heat gashed the Thunder for 40 points in the first quarter, but the second and third quarter were ties. OKC, in typical fashion, had a comeback on its mind. The Heat led by as many as 22 points, but the Thunder cut the deficit to seven points with two minutes left and won the fourth quarter 30-23.

The Thunder attempted a season-high 46 3-pointers two days after attempting 42 3-pointers in a loss to the Raptors. OKC shot 39 percent from three against the Heat. Danilo Gallinari was 7-of-12 from behind the arc.

The Thunder (23-19) lost its third consecutive home game after winning seven of eight home games from Dec. 6 to Jan. 9.

***

Trail Blazers at Thunder

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City

TV: FSOK (Cox 37)

Radio: WWLS-AM 640 / 98.1 FM

Related Photos
<strong>Oklahoma City's Chris Paul (3) reacts after fouling Miami's Jimmy Butler (22) during the Thunder's 115-108 loss Friday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]</strong>

Oklahoma City's Chris Paul (3) reacts after fouling Miami's Jimmy Butler (22) during the Thunder's 115-108 loss Friday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-a56da461e957cd4d9e1a38d14770559a.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City's Chris Paul (3) reacts after fouling Miami's Jimmy Butler (22) during the Thunder's 115-108 loss Friday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] " title=" Oklahoma City's Chris Paul (3) reacts after fouling Miami's Jimmy Butler (22) during the Thunder's 115-108 loss Friday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Oklahoma City's Chris Paul (3) reacts after fouling Miami's Jimmy Butler (22) during the Thunder's 115-108 loss Friday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-f752af4ea77c6443881f7c6119d25f41.jpg" alt="Photo - Miami's Bam Adebayo (13) goes past Oklahoma City's Mike Muscala (33) on Friday. Adebayo scored 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] " title=" Miami's Bam Adebayo (13) goes past Oklahoma City's Mike Muscala (33) on Friday. Adebayo scored 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Miami's Bam Adebayo (13) goes past Oklahoma City's Mike Muscala (33) on Friday. Adebayo scored 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-49608f352cb0702f4e6f749c2b36165a.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) reaches for the ball in front of Miami's Duncan Robinson (55) during the Heat's 115-108 win Friday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] " title=" Oklahoma City's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) reaches for the ball in front of Miami's Duncan Robinson (55) during the Heat's 115-108 win Friday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Oklahoma City's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) reaches for the ball in front of Miami's Duncan Robinson (55) during the Heat's 115-108 win Friday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure>
Joe Mussatto

Joe Mussatto joined The Oklahoman in August 2018 to cover OU football, men’s basketball and softball. He previously covered University of Kentucky football and basketball for SEC Country. Mussatto is from Oklahoma City and lives in Norman. Read more ›

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