ORLANDO, Fla. -- Miami Heat guard Kyle Lowry did something during the start of Saturday night's 126-114 overtime loss to the Orlando Magic that he hadn't done in over 10 years: He sat on the bench.
Lowry, who hadn't played since Feb. 2 because of left knee soreness, entered Saturday's game with 6:21 left in the first quarter, replacing Heat star Jimmy Butler. When he did, it snapped a 677-game streak of starting, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
The last time Lowry came off the bench was as a member of the Toronto Raptors on Jan. 26, 2013, against the Cleveland Cavaliers. After missing 15 straight games, he said he just wants to help where he can.
"At this point right now, no," Lowry said when asked if he cared about still starting. "I know in my heart I'm a starter, but right now we have to figure out things. And me and [Heat coach Erik Spoelstra] talked. He wants to make sure I'm healthy enough to not have a setback and have to change the lineup again and have to change the rotation again."
Lowry's entrance into Saturday's game was briefly delayed as he had to jump off the stationary bike he was loosening up on behind the Heat bench. As he got to the scorer's table he had to take off his warmups, a heating pad and another wrap before checking into the game.
Lowry, who will turn 37 later this month, had 12 points and four assists in 36 minutes. Spoelstra admitted after the game that the high minutes total "definitely wasn't the plan" but said the Heat's rotation had to be altered because guard Tyler Herro was limited because of food poisoning and big man Cody Zeller had to leave the game after breaking his nose and having to get stitches under his eye.
Despite the circumstances, Spoelstra and the Heat players were pleased by what they saw from Lowry.
"He came back, and he looked great to me," Butler said. "Right back in rhythm. But we got to win. With him out there, without him out there, we're expected to win. We're in the fight for our life right now. Glad to have my guy back. I think we all know that. I think everybody is. Now we just got to get him back and win."
Magic swingman Franz Wagner also had to leave the game after injuring his right ankle in the fourth quarter. The Magic said that X-rays were negative.
The game was filled with plenty of highlight-worthy plays, including Butler's 3-pointer at the end of regulation that sent the game into overtime. But once in overtime the young Magic regrouped and rolled behind Wendell Carter Jr.'s 27 points and 11 rebounds.
The game also included a strange moment at the end when Butler walked off the floor with the final seconds still ticking. Miami was called for a technical foul for having only four players on the court, a final frustrating end for a Heat squad that did not think it got a consistent whistle. "That was kind of a bizarre deal," Spoelstra said of the final technical. "There was like half a dozen instances we had with that official. That's neither here nor there. I'm not going to get a fine. And league, you're not even going to think about giving me a fine.
"But it started off with that blocking foul where Jimmy took one to the face, then Cody took another one to the face and broke his nose. And then our debate about those seemed to carry over with the official and then it became like a matching of egos I guess. But he got the last laugh on that one, the official did."
Asked if he knew the Heat got a technical when he walked off the floor, Butler said, "I don't give a f---."
The Heat, now 36-33 and in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, are just hoping to find a rhythm heading into the final month of the season. Lowry acknowledged how rough it was for him to sit and watch his teammates over the past month.
"It sucked," Lowry said of his absence. "Honestly, one thing about it is you want to win basketball games and compete. I always believe in our team and what we do. You win two, lose two, win one, lose one, it's tough. And then not being able to physically get out there and help ... the guys are fighting their butts off, and all I can do is say, 'Good game, and let's get back at it.'"