Jimmy Butler went super saiyan in a herculean effort to keep the Miami Heat alive in the 2020 NBA Finals. His 35-point-triple double led the Heat to a back-against-the-wall victory over the Los Angeles Lakers to extend the series at least one more game. Foe LeBron James finished with 40 points, 13 rebounds, and 7 assists in a losing effort.
Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat Force Game 6 in NBA Finals
Tempers flared early in a back-and-forth battle as Jimmy Butler and Dwight Howard tangled up during a dead ball. The scrum resulted in a double technical, but was quickly forgotten as James tossed an alley-oop to fellow superstar Anthony Davis. The Lakers rode that momentum to an 11-2 run before the Heat called timeout.
The Heat responded with a quick 4-0 spurt out of the timeout to cut the Los Angeles lead to 18-17 toward the end of the first quarter, and Kendrick Nunn‘s triple put the Heat back ahead, 20-18. The Lakers called a quick timeout to stop the bleeding.
The Heat found themselves up 25-22. Then, Davis went down with an apparent leg/foot injury for the Lakers. Davis was able to walk off the court under his own power, and would soon return. The Heat took a one-point lead to the end of the opening period.
The Heat got up as much as 31-24 early in the second quarter, but James quickly halted the run with a contested triple. To that point, he was a red-hot 4-for-5 from the field. It wasn’t enough, though, as the Heat responded with another run, notching a 36-27 lead before forcing the Lakers into another timeout. The Heat were bringing the, well, heat, shooting a flaming-hot 56 percent from the field heading into the break.
LeBron James, Jimmy Butler Heat Up
The Heat weren’t done, either. They got their lead up to as much as 41-30 by the midpoint of the second quarter before the Lakers put together a run of their own. James nailed two triples in three posessions to notch his 17th points (out of just 36 total for the Lakers) to extend his hot start to 7-for-9 from the field in just 14 minutes on the floor. The Lakers cut the lead to just six heading into the next timeout.
James continued his dominance up to the halftime buzzer, posting 15 points in the period. He finished the first half with 21 points behind 9-for-11 shooting with 4 rebounds and 3 assists. The Heat managed to take a 60-56 lead into the locker room. Davis added 13 points and 7 boards for the Lakers, while Butler finished the half with 22 points on 7-for-10 shooting for the Heat.
Back and Forth, A Fight to the Finish
The Heat led by as much as 11 in the first half, but only took a four-point lead into halftime. They extended it back to seven thanks to a quick Jae Crowder triple out of the break, but the Lakers quickly cut it down to one within the first three minutes of the period.
James hit a deep three from the Finals logo to extend his insane start to 10-for-13 with 24 points. Butler responded with a clutch shot of his own to get the Heat lead back to three as James and Butler continued their one-on-one bout. The two couldn’t be stopped.
Going into a timeout with 4:00 left in the third, James and Butler had 27 points each as the Heat held a slim 78-77 lead. James was 11-for-14 shooting (5-for-7 from deep) with 6 boards and 5 assists, while Butler posted an impressive 9-for-13 shooting line to go along with 9 rebounds and 9 dimes.
Out of the timeout, Crowder nailed a three-pointer to take a four-point lead, and drew a foul. His four-point effort put the Heat up 82-77 with just under three minutes to play in the third quarter. Duncan Robinson decided to do the same just a few minutes later, drilling a triple and drawing a foul on Kyle Kuzma. He completed the four-point play to put Miami up 86-80 with just over 30 seconds left in the period.
Miami took an 88-82 lead into a do-or-die fourth quarter.
The Final Period
James tried out his best Stephen Curry impression, notching his sixth (in eight attempts) early in the quarter. However, the Heat still found themselves up 93-85 with just nine minutes left in the game. Danny Green nailed a triple to cut the lead down to just five points with 8:19 left in the contest, and Davis made his way to the charity stripe with a chance to knock the deficit down to just three. He made both, setting the score at 93-90 with just over eight minutes to play.
The Heat responded with another triple, but James and Davis kept battling.
The James assist to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope gave the Lakers their first lead in ages as he drilled a three-pointer to put Los Angeles up 97-96 with 6:18 to play. Suddenly, the feeling in the air shifted.
Butler didn’t like that.
He stole the ball from Alex Caruso and converted an and-one layup, but it wouldn’t count. However, Robinson drilled a triple just seconds later to give the Heat a 101-99 lead with just 2:58 to play.
James was fouled on the next possession and would head to the line to shoot two free throws. He drilled both to tie the contest at 101 with 2:52 to play. They were his 34th and 35th points of the game. But Butler wasn’t done. He drilled a short-range jumper to give the Heat a two-point lead with just over a minute and a half left. But James responded with a hard-earned and-one to tie the game. He then got a chance for the lead with a free throw.
And he drilled it. 104-103, Lakers. 1:30 t0 play.
Butler took that lead right back. 105-104. James missed a layup, grabbed his own board. Shot is good. 106-105, Lakers.
A Finish for the Ages
Butler hit his first free throw to tie the game at 106 with 47 ticks left. He hit the second to take the lead.
James brought the ball up the floor. He drove, kicked it to Caldwell-Pope. Miss. Davis with the rebound. He put it up, it fell. But the shot clock expired. Or did it? After review, the shot was off in time. The Lakers took a 108-107 lead with just 21.8 seconds left in the contest.
Now, the Heat had once chance. Win it or lose it. All in one possession.
Butler took the inbound. He drove, but was fouled. The NBA season came down to the free throw line.
The first went up. It went in. Tie game. The second went up, it went in. Heat take a 109-108 lead with just 16.8 seconds left.
James passes it out. Green, no good. Markieff Morris throw is out of bounds. Heat ball. Ballgame. The Miami Heat survive to fight another day in the NBA Finals. Final score, 111-108, Miami.
Game 6 between the Heat and Lakers is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 11 on ABC.
Embed from Getty Images