The Philadelphia 76ers' 14-game unbeaten run at home came to an end, thanks to a spirited performance from the Miami Heat.
Philly entered today's contest as the league's only remaining team unbeaten at home, and after a furious fourth-quarter rally, looked set to keep the streak alive before the Heat held their nerve to secure the 108-104 win.
Rookie Kendrick Nunn led the way with 26 points and five assists while Bam Adebayo continued his impressive start to the season recording 23 points, nine rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks. He also knocking down the game-sealing free throws with 1.5 seconds remaining.
The Heat (20-8) got off to a slow start, trailing by 12 points in the second quarter, before reeling off a 27-7 run to close the first half and seize control to go into the break leading by eight.
The @MiamiHEAT use a 27-7 RUN to take the lead at halftime in Philly! #HEATTwitter- NBA (@NBA) December 19, 2019
Watch the 2nd half on ESPN pic.twitter.com/SmEXpkWg2D
They troubled the 76ers with their zone defence, throwing Philly's offence out of rhythm as they shot 42.2% (38-of-90) from the field, with head coach Brett Brown acknowledging their struggles post-game.
"I think that we ended up overthinking it probably too much," Brown said.
"I feel like we've been really quite good against a zone this year, I think we've got the fifth-best offence in the NBA against a zone, so they tell me."
"I feel like it put us on our heels and I don't feel like we responded the way that I thought we would. I think it crept into our defence, it like watered us down on both sides of the ball and finally, we got some life going in the fourth period, but I fell like it was as much a mentality and mood swing as it was anything.
"I think structurally, we get the ball inside, we were 12-for-39 from threes, I just think that put water on our mood."
After taking an 82-74 lead after three quarters, the Heat extended their advantage to as many as 16 points in the fourth before Josh Richardson and Joel Embiid triggered the 76ers comeback.
Embiid poured in 12 of his team-high 22 points in the fourth quarter, adding 19 rebounds for his 19th double-double of the season.
A three-pointer from Tobias Harris cut the deficit to 106-104 and when Nunn missed a pair of free throws on the next possession, Philly had a chance to tie or take the lead. Al Horford's open look from three was off, leaving Adebayo to seal the win at the free-throw line.
Harris finished with 20 points, while Richardson and Ben Simmons added 17 apiece.
In his second game back in Philly against his former team, Jimmy Butler recorded 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
With the win, the Heat have now earned victories on the road against three of the East's best teams, winning in Milwaukee and Toronto before today's game.