Point guard Kyle Lowry, who played 63 of the Miami Heat’s 82 games last season and appeared in just 46 of the Toronto Raptors’ contests in a year prior, is suddenly an iron man.
At age 36.
With the Heat missing several of their top players at various points throughout the first 19 games, Lowry has logged more minutes on the young season than any other player not named Kevin Durant.
Lowry, who has yet to miss a single game, is expected to be the Heat’s guiding force once again on Friday night when they host the Washington Wizards.
Miami beat Washington 113-105 on Wednesday. Lowry scored a season-high 28 points in 35 minutes in that game, while going 7 for 12 from the field, which included sinking 5 of 6 3-pointers. He was also a perfect 9 for 9 from the free-throw line.
The Heat played without leading scorer Jimmy Butler (sore right knee), starter Max Strus (right shoulder impingement) and key reserve Duncan Robinson (sprained left ankle).
“We found a way to get the win,” Lowry said.
Then again, the Wizards were also without their leading scorer, Bradley Beal, because of a quad contusion. Starting forward Rui Hachimura (sore right ankle) and starting point guard Monte Morris (ankle) also sat out the game.
The good news for the Heat is that dynamic guard Tyler Herro returned on Wednesday, scoring 17 points in 29 minutes.
Herro, who had missed eight games due to a sprained ankle, wasn’t totally sharp in his return, shooting just 6-for-15 from the floor.
With Butler out, Miami has been starting 19-year-old rookie Nikola Jovic.
Jovic played just four of Miami’s first 14 games, coming off the bench in each one. He totaled just nine points in those four contests.
However, Jovic has started Miami’s past five games, averaging 9.8 points and 4.6 rebounds.
Washington has its own up-and-coming talent in Deni Avdija, a 21-year-old in his third season in the league.
Avdija, a first-round pick in 2020, nearly had a triple-double against Miami on Wednesday with 12 points, a game-high 10 assists and nine rebounds.
The Wizards got a game-high 33 points in that meeting from Kyle Kuzma, but he made just 2 of 13 3-pointers.
“We just didn’t come out and match their physicality,” Kuzma said of the loss to Miami.
For the season, Beal — who has missed six games due to various injuries and health and safety protocols — leads the Wizards in points (22.7) and assists per game (5.8). It is possible he will return on Friday.
Kristaps Porzingis is second on the team in scoring (20.4 points per game) and first in rebounds (8.8) and blocks per game (1.5). Kuzma is third in scoring (19.8 ppg) and second in rebounds (8.1 per game).
If Morris and Hachimura miss Friday’s game, the Wizards are expected to turn again to Jordan Goodwin at point guard and Corey Kispert at forward. Goodwin and Kispert combined to post 16 points, five assists and three rebounds in 64 minutes on Wednesday.