A remarkable triple-double from Jimmy Butler has lifted the short-handed Miami Heat to a shock 115-104 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, breathing new life into the NBA Finals.
Butler finished with 40 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists as the Heat cut the Lakers’ series lead to 2-1 – doing so with starters Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic unable to play because of injury.
It was the third 40-point triple-double in finals history, Butler coming up with the game of his life when the Heat needed it most.
He was 14 for 20 from the field, and after the Heat surrendered a double-digit lead early in the fourth he made sure this one wouldn’t get away.
“Win,” Butler said. “I don’t care about triple-doubles. I don’t care about none of that. I really don’t. I want to win. We did that. I’m happy with the outcome.”
Game four is on Tuesday night (Wednesday morning AEDT).
Tyler Herro and Kelly Olynyk each had 17 points for Miami, who also got 13 from Duncan Robinson and 12 from Jae Crowder.
LeBron James had 25 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists for the Lakers, while Kyle Kuzma and Markieff Morris each had 19 points off the bench. Anthony Davis managed 15 for the Lakers.
Whenever the Heat looked ready to pull away and grab control of the clash, the Lakers always found a way to find their best gear.
A 13-point Heat lead in the early going? The Lakers had the lead back in less than five minutes.
A 14-point Heat lead after a 10-0 run to start the second half? The Lakers scored the next eight.
A 12-point Heat lead late in the third? It took the Lakers less than five minutes to put together a 20-6 run, taking the lead back at 91-89 with 8:55 left on a layup by Rajon Rondo.
But the rest of the way was all Miami, Butler simply unwilling to let his team go down 3-0. The only other time Miami was down 2-0 in a finals was 2006, when Dwyane Wade took over and led the Heat all the way back.
This time, it was Butler in that role.
“I think we realised that we belong,” Butler said.