The 3-pointer has become a very popular shot in the NBA, and the Heat are joining the frenzy

Miami Heat’s Wayne Ellington (2) attempts a three-point basket as New York Knicks’ Frank Ntilikina, of France, defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 5, 2018, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

MIAMI — Coach Erik Spoelstra sounded mentally and physically drained Friday night after the Heat’s hard-fought overtime win over the Knicks.

“Eight o’clock game, overtime, I’m spent,” Spoelstra said to begin his postgame press conference.

But when told the Heat launched a franchise-record 42 threes against New York, Spoelstra joked that he might be called into team president Pat Riley’s office before he could leave AmericanAirlines Arena.

“What has this organization come to?” Spoelstra said with a smile, as the Heat move on to host the Jazz on Sunday afternoon to close a three-game homestand. “I’m sure I’m going to have to go upstairs and meet with Pat and talk about getting the ball in the post or something.

“No, look, we’re not going to be a team that averages 40, but those shots presented themselves tonight. And I thought they were good looks. There weren’t many pull-ups or contested ones. For a stretch there, I thought we had a bunch of opens ones – we just missed them, actually way more open than any of the stuff that we had in the paint. New York, you have to credit them. They did a great job of protecting the paint. It’s not the easiest team when they play big or with [Kristaps] Porzingis in there, to be able get opportunities at the rim, without him disrupting that. So a lot of the plays were to the weak side, move it one more, good to great, and those were the shots.”

The Heat made just 12 of their 42 threes Friday and are ranked 12th in the league with a 3-point shooting percentage of 36.9 percent, but it’s their unwavering commitment to the 3-pointer that has become one of the themes of the season. Miami is averaging the sixth-most 3-point shot attempts in the league at 31.6 per game.

That’s a big number for a Heat team that attempted the third-fewest threes in the league at 18 per game in 2015-16. But it’s a different NBA, with nine teams taking 30 or more 3-point shot attempts per game this season compared to just two teams in 2015-16.

And the Heat are a different team, with their current drive-and-kick style relying on the threat of threes to keep defenses honest. New York decided to close off the paint Friday, so Miami shot a lot of threes in response.

“It had a lot to do with New York’s defense,” forward James Johnson said of the Heat’s record-setting night from deep. “They packed the paint a lot and a lot of our attackers were getting in the paint and making the right decisions. They were spraying it out instead of trying to take the tough [shot], over two 7-footers or one seven-footer and the athletic guys. I think they were making the right reads, and those were the shots that presented themselves. I don’t think coach is going to get upset about any of those 3-point attempts.”

Spoelstra will definitely be OK with at least 16 of the Heat’s threes because that’s the number sharpshooter Wayne Ellington was responsible for. Ellington attempted a career-high and franchise-record 16 3-pointers against the Knicks, making six of them to finish with a team-high 24 points.

“When I looked at the sheet after the game and saw 16 attempts from out there, I was like, ‘Wow!'” Ellington said. “I mean I didn’t realize it. I was just in the flow of the game.”

A lot of the Heat’s threes are coming in the flow of the game because it’s a big part of their offense.

Miami shattered its record for 3-point shot attempts in a single season with 2,213 last year, which easily surpassed the previous mark of 1,865 set in 1996-97. But the Heat are on their way to setting a new record, as they are on pace to attempt 2,593 3-pointers this season.

“I mean, why not? They were good shots,” point guard Goran Dragic said of the 42 threes Miami took against New York. “But we’re happy with this win, especially with shooting 40 percent from the field. And we need to grind these games. It was a tough game, but we’re happy with the result.”

[Erik Spoelstra shakes off Michael Beasley’s comments: ‘Jeez, Beas. You threw me under the bus, man’]

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