Heat force Game 6, top Lakers to stave off elimination
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) - Jimmy Butler had slumped over a video board behind the baseline for the last few seconds, gasping for breath.
He gave everything.
The Miami Heat didn't need anything less.
The NBA finals - and Miami's title chances - aren't over yet, not after Butler and The Heat put in a virtuoso performance in Game 5 on Friday night. Butler had 35 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists, and the Heat held Los Angeles 111-108 down to reduce the Lakers' lead to 3-2 in the title series.
This is Jimmy Butler, said the Bam Adebayo thermal center. '' This is our maximum player and that's what we go to in these moments. ''
With good reason. He didn't let her down, even on a night when LeBron James was a masterpiece of his quest for a fourth title and the best record player in NBA history.
James had 40 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists for the Lakers. But on the possession that decided everything Friday night, the heat forced the ball out of James' hands by basically sending three defenders on him as he drove down the right side of the alley, the heat at one, the Lakers only needed a basket for a title.
He found Green alone on the key; Green's shot was very short and the heat finished him off with two free throws.
"It was a bit of luck that Danny Green missed that shot on top of the key," said Butler.
Game 6 is Sunday evening.
"We have a damn good look to win the game, to win the series," said James. 'It didn't go down. ''
Duncan Robinson had 26 points for Miami, where seven players were used. Kendrick Nunn had 14 points, Bam Adebayo 13, Tyler Herro 12 and Jae Crowder 11. The seventh player, Andre Iguodala, did not score.
Anthony Davis, who played through an injured heel, scored 28 points and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 16 for the Lakers.
Los Angeles pulled out all the stops: Davis was wearing shiny gold sneakers the shade of which resembled the Larry O'Brien Trophy, and the team made the decision earlier this week to skip the planned purple uniforms and wear the black uniforms from Kobe Bryant instead inspired.
They were 4-0 in those uniforms. You are now 4-1.
But Bryant, oh how he would have loved that fight. Drama to the end.
Robinson's 3-pointer 3:13 left put Miami by two and started a stretch where the next nine hits from either side resulted in a tie or a change in leadership.
They went back and forth. Butler was fouled 46.7 seconds ahead and then sagged clearly exhausted over the base video boards. He made both fouls by a point; Davis' putback, 21.8 seconds ahead, brought the Lakers back to the top.
"We were very close," said Lakers coach Frank Vogel. "I felt like two bad calls ended up getting Butler's turn, you know, and that's unfortunate in a game of this magnitude."
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra used his last time out after Davis' starting shot to give Butler a few minutes off. Butler drove off the track, made contact and made both 16.8 seconds clear for a 109-108 lead.
"Every young player who comes into this league should study footage of Jimmy Butler, the definition of a two-way player who goes both ends, five steals and then offensively doing these big games for us," said Spoelstra.
Thanks to Butler, who played all but 38 seconds, they escaped. The season continues.
"This is where we are and we like it so much," said Butler. `` And we have two more to get. ''
Heat: Point guard Goran Dragic (torn left plantar fascia) missed his fourth game in a row. He was injured in the first half of Game 1. "I pray I hope we get 7 back," Butler said. ... Butler had 22 points in the first half, the second highest in the history of the Heat Final. Dwyane Wade had 24 at halftime from Game 4 of the 2006 Finals ... Robinson made seven 3-pointers.
Lakers: James and Davis together were 24 for 36. The rest of the Lakers were 14 for 46. ... It was playoff game # 259 for James that drew Derek Fisher for most of the history of the NBA playoffs. ... The Lakers' reserves shot 5 for 22.
Butler became the sixth player in NBA final history to have multiple triple doubles in the same series of titles: Magic Johnson and James both did it three times, while Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain and Draymond Green did it once. "He was as perfect as possible," said Adebayo.
Miami had risen to 93-82 by 10:17 when James made his sixth 3-pointer of the night - on eight attempts to that point. James' 3 started a 17-3 run over the next 4-50. Caldwell-Pope hit a 3-pointer to get the Lakers to 97-96 and added a transition basket about a minute later.
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