MIAMI — In 2004, Richard Hamilton led the Detroit Pistons to a championship run.
He brought Jimmy Butler to the Chicago Bulls in 2011-12 and 2012-13 before retiring.
Asked about his six steals in Wednesday night’s win over the Los Angeles Lakers — the most by a Miami Heat player this season — Butler credited Hamilton for instilling such focus in Butler’s first two NBA seasons. .
“I think that’s always been a thing,” Butler said of steals. “But I think it actually came from Richard Hamilton, who taught me when I was very young. Because whenever I came into the league I wasn’t that good, like no one wanted to pass the ball to me.”
While Butler’s scoring has improved significantly since his early days in the NBA, averaging a team-leading 22 points in Friday night’s five-game start against the Denver Nuggets, Butler said Hamilton’s wisdom remains sacrosanct.
“And,” Butler said of the three-time former All-Star, “he always told me, ‘If you want to score, if you want to get the ball, play defense and steal, lay it up. …or grab the rebound and grab the offensive rebound. No one is going to pass it to you, so you have to go get it.
“And, to this day, it’s still in the back of my mind, like I want to shoot the ball, to catch the ball and make an easy shot, a layup or an offensive rebound.”
Speaking of Butler’s offense, he’s now shot at least 50 percent in 10 straight games with a . 596 field goal percentage, a career high.
Point guard Kyle Lowry flew five games with the team after returning too late to South Florida with Wednesday night’s win over the visiting Lakers.
The only players not traveling were centers Dewayne Dedmon and Omer Yurtseven.
Dedmon has missed the past three games with recurring plantar fasciitis in his left foot. Yurtseven has been sidelined since ankle surgery last November.
The absence of those two means that two-way player Orlando Robinson will likely remain in the Heat rotation as the primary backup to starting center Bam Adebayo.
With his knee in need of maintenance, the Heat said earlier this month that the Heat’s plan is to have Butler play in just one of five starts in back-to-back games, Friday in Denver or Saturday against the Utah Jazz. The Heat won’t have another back-to-back game until February.
Butler is listed as a possibility for Friday, making him likely to miss Utah on Saturday.
The Heat have swept back-to-back three sets against Denver this season, split twice and lost both games twice.
Butler missed Monday night’s home win over the Minnesota Timberwolves with a sprained ankle, but said Wednesday he’s recovered.
In fact, the Heat haven’t started the same lineup in their past eight straight games. The last time the team started the same five games in a row was on Dec. 10 against the San Antonio Spurs and Dec. 12 against the Indiana Pacers.
Dedmon and Yultzer were even absent from the Heat’s injury report Friday; Caleb Martin (ankle) and Udonis Haslem (Achilles) had issues; and Butler, Nikola Jovic (guard) and Gabvin Center (knee) likely.
While Tyler Herro has missed shots in his past two games, he’s made 13 of 36 overall, and he’s compensated with 17 assists, including nine against the Lakers.
“From one game to the next, I have to watch different coverage and different things,” Herro said. “So I sped up here and there sometimes. But, for the most part, the game was really slowing down.”