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With playoff place locked in, Heat rest starters, lose Crowder in 116-115 loss to Thunder

Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel on

Published in Basketball

The Miami Heat came out with a purpose Wednesday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Apparently it was to put together a solid first half and emerge unscathed.

On that count, even after pushing to an early 18-point lead, Erik Spoelstra's team came up short.

With forward Jae Crowder lost for the night after bumping knees with the Thunder's Lu Dort in the first quarter, Spoelstra took no chances over the final 24 minutes in what turned into a 116-115 Heat loss at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex.

Having earlier in the night been locked into a No. 4-No. 5 best-of-seven first-round playoff series against the Indiana Pacers, by virtue of a Pacers victory over the Houston Rockets, Spoelstra preached prudence pregame.

"That does create a little more of clarity of how we'll operate going forward," Spoelstra said. "We still want to work on getting ready for the playoffs."

So Duncan Robinson went for 19 points in the first half, Bam Adebayo was allowed to play through early foul trouble, and Jimmy Butler wasn't asked to overexert.

 

And then all three were held out of the second half.

With Crowder, the same decision wasn't necessarily by choice, but the early indications were that the injury was not serious.

The Heat opened the second half with Solomon Hill, Derrick Jones Jr. and Meyers Leonard as starters for the third quarter, Leonard's first action in the Disney seeding games and first regular-season appearance since his Feb. 3 ankle injury.

Goran Dragic, Wednesday's fifth Heat starter, then checked out early in the third period, in favor of Gabe Vincent.

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