Max Strus had 25 points and the Miami Heat snapped a two-game losing streak with a 115-109 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night despite the absence of Jimmy Butler.
A match with many ejections
Miami also overcame the first-half ejection of Kyle Lowry, which left the already short-handed Heat with nine players for the rest of the game.
The teams tussled in the final minute after an altercation between Portland’s Jusuf Nurkic and Miami’s Tyler Herro. Both were ejected.
Herro finished with 16 points off the bench.
Miami led by 19 points, but the Trail Blazers narrowed the gap in the third quarter and pulled within 83-80 entering the final period.
Dennis Smith Jr. hit a layup for the Blazers to tie it at 90 with 9:41 left. The Heat responded with a 15-2 run to go up 105-92.
Portland was led by Anfernee Simons with 28 points while Norman Powell added 26.
Butler and Lillard did not play due to injury
Butler, who leads the Heat with an average of 23.2 points per game, sprained his ankle Monday in the third quarter of a 115-108 loss at Golden State.
Portland was without star guard Damian Lillard because of lower abdominal tendinopathy. Lillard also sat out Portland 136-131 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday and will be unavailable for two upcoming games this weekend.
The Trail Blazers said Lillard – who is averaging 24 points and 7.3 assists – is undergoing further evaluation of the injury, which has bothered him since the Tokyo Olympics.
Lillard was replaced in the lineup for the second straight game by Simons, who had a career-high 43 points against the Hawks. The win snapped a four-game losing streak.
Simons had 20 points in the third quarter alone.
What’s next for Heat and Trail Blazers?
The Heat visit the Phoenix Suns on Saturday.
The Trail Blazers host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night.