This is the way the Heat wanted to start its season-long six-game trip.
The Heat (10-14) opened this 10-day stretch away from home with a 115-98 blowout win over the struggling Suns on Friday at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Phoenix dropped to a league-worst 4-22, with the Heat now 19-2 over their past 21 games against the Suns.
But it gets a lot tougher for Miami. The remaining five games on the trip includes four that are against teams .500 or better, starting with a Saturday matchup against the Clippers (16-8) in Los Angeles on the second night of a back-to-back set.
All of that just made Friday’s game that much more important for Miami to win, and it took care of business by outscoring Phoenix 81-62 over the final three quarters.
With center Hassan Whiteside away from the team for the birth of his child, Bam Adebayo started in his place and dominated. The 21-year-old Adebayo finished with a career-high 22 points to go with 10 rebounds in 32 minutes.
Adebayo surpassed his previous career-high of 19 points in the second quarter with the help of a 20-point first half. The Heat outscored the Suns by 20 points with him playing.
Miami also benefited from the return of Goran Dragic, who had missed the previous eight games with a swollen right knee. The Heat’s starting point guard contributed 11 points and 10 assists in 21 minutes in his return to record his first double-double of the season.
The Heat announced after the game that Dragic will not play Saturday against the Clippers on the second night of the back-to-back set. This was part of the Heat’s plan even before Friday night, with Dragic coming off an injury.
Justise Winslow recorded a season-high 20 points on 7 of 8 shooting to go with eight rebounds and six assists off the Heat’s bench.
Troy Daniels led the Suns with 18 points and shot 6 of 10 on three-pointers.
The victory improved the Heat’s road record to 5-5, which is surprisingly better than its 5-9 home record.
Both the Heat and Suns were shorthanded, as Miami played without Dion Waiters (left ankle surgery), Wayne Ellington (personal reasons) and Whiteside, and the Suns were without their top two scorers Devin Booker (left hamstring strain) and T.J. Warren (right ankle soreness).