Kentucky’s Tyler Herro befuddles Grayson Allen in NBA debut; Towns has career night

Tyler Herro flashed star potential in his NBA debut for the Miami Heat on Wednesday night.

The former University of Kentucky standout started and scored 14 points on 6-of-14 shooting and tied for second-most on the team with eight rebounds in Miami’s 120-101 win over visiting Memphis. The No. 13 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft played the second-most minutes for the Heat (34) and also had two steals and an assist while turning the ball over just once.

Herro also showed off some nifty handles, at one point taking a pass on the wing and faking out Memphis’ Grayson Allen so thoroughly that the former Duke Blue Devil quickly backpedaled on defense then fell onto his rear end. Herro made one of two three pointers and his only free throw in the win.

In his lone year with the Wildcats, Herro averaged 14 points per game, trailing only PJ Washington (15.2). Herro sank a team-best 60 three-pointers on the year and hit 93.5 percent of his free throws to set the UK single-season record.

It’s not clear yet whether Herro will continue to start for the Heat. Four-time All-Star Jimmy Butler missed the opener due to personal reasons and veteran Dion Waiters was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team.

“I was ready to start or ready to come off the bench either way,” Herro told the Miami Herald. “I was excited to start. Whatever Coach needs, I got.”

Herro, the youngest player to ever start a game for the Heat at 19 years and 276 days old, scored Miami’s first points of the young season with a floating bank shot 36 seconds into his NBA career. He played the first 9:54 of the game before being subbed out.

Former Kentucky star Bam Adebayo also started for the Heat on Wednesday, scoring 14 points and grabbing a team-high 11 rebounds. Murray State’s Ja Morant, the No. 2 overall selection in the 2019 draft, scored 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting in his debut for the Grizzlies.

“I felt like I could have been better in a lot of places,” Morant told the Commercial Appeal of Memphis after also committing six turnovers. “I’m looking forward to practice. That’s where we can get better at, study film, get out there, fix our mistakes. Then Friday we can correct them in the game.”

Towns sets new bar

Former Kentucky star Karl-Anthony Towns has already raised the bar this season. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft and two-time All-Star made a career-high seven three-pointers on 11 attempts in the Minnesota Timberwolves’ 127-126 overtime win at Brooklyn on Wednesday.

Towns added a game-high 14 rebounds to his 36-point night along with three assists, three steals and three blocks. Minnesota survived a 50-point effort from Kyrie Irving, whose potential game-winning shot at the buzzer was off the mark.

“This is a special group where very rarely this happens in the NBA,” Towns told the Pioneer Press of St. Paul. “Everyone in this locker room is here for one goal. That’s to win.”

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Josh Sullivan has worked at the Herald-Leader for more than 10 years in multiple capacities, including as a news assistant, page designer, copy editor and sports reporter. He is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Lexington native.