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Tyler Herro's clutch heroics lift Heat past Bulls

The rookie from Kentucky scores 16 of Miami's final 18 points, and 27 overall

MIAMI — The MVP chants from the AmericanAirlines Arena crowd in the final second of overtime might have been a bit much. But when you put on the sort of show Heat rookie Tyler Herro did Sunday night, going a little overboard was understandable.

Herro rescued the Heat, closing the show by scoring 16 of their final 18 points and 27 overall to help keep the Heat a perfect 10-0 at home in a 110-105 win over the Bulls.

The Heat are off to the best home start in franchise history, and they’re doing it with youngsters like Herro, Bam Adebayo, Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn all playing critical minutes with veterans unavailable.

With Jimmy Butler grinding through tight defense from the Bulls and Adebayo ailing late, hindered by a groin injury that he played through in regulation before finally succumbing in OT, Herro took over when the Heat needed it most.

Herro drained a 3-pointer with 38.2 seconds to play in overtime, putting the finishing touches on the win and a second straight 20-point game following his 22 off the bench in Friday night’s win over Washington.

It was hardly the perfect game for the Heat, but they remain perfect here at home in what’s turned out to be a surprising start to the Butler era given all of the injuries and adversity they’ve had to face early on. The Heat also sit 11 games above .500 and third in the Eastern Conference.

“It doesn’t surprise us,” Butler said. “Not too much should surprise the outside eyes. We’ve got a really good team, with really good, young players, older players, middle-aged players. We’re just locked in, man. And Tyler came up big for us.”

Herro’s scoring was right on time against a Bulls team that outplayed the Heat for most of the game.

“It’s the next step in his NBA growth,” said Adebayo, who finished with 21 points, a game-high 13 rebounds, six assists and three steals. “We know he’s a great shooter. Now he just has to go out there and take big shots. He’s taking full advantage of it and we need him to keep doing that.”

In the biggest moments, that’s when Tyler’s playing his best.”

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, on Tyler Herro

Herro’s clutch shooting is a hallmark of his game that has translated from his schoolboy days in Wisconsin to his one season at the University of Kentucky and apparently now to his rookie campaign with the Heat.

The bright lights don’t seem to bother him much.

“You saw him dig into games in college,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “In the biggest moments, that’s when he’s playing his best. As we’ve gotten to know him in the short period of time, you can see his confidence. If your max player trusts you at that point in a game, and Jimmy was looking for him, that says all you need to know.

“The trust has been earned within our walls and Jimmy has seen what this kid can do in those situations. You see the confidence but can’t really define it. You just see it in Tyler day by day.”

It’s a look the rest of the league better get used to. Herro’s fearlessness at crunch time isn’t going away.

“I don’t shy away from taking the big shot,” he said. “I have a lot of confidence. Down the stretch, Jimmy trusted me with the ball, he got me in a good spot to knock down a couple of 3s. They picked their poison, either Jimmy or me. But there’s another three guys on the floor with us that can hurt them too. They had to pick their poison.”

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Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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