The biggest moment of his career. The best game of his life.
Jimmy Butler is clearly not ready to go home yet. With a triple-double, he reached the NBA Finals Lore – and the short-handed Miami Heat could have made the title match-up a series.
Butler finished with 40 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists, and the Heat beat the Los Angeles Lakers 115-104 2-1 on Sunday night – starters Bam Adebayo and Goran Drajic are yet to play due to injury.
“I tell the coach all the time, ” I’m ready for it, ” Butler said.” The biggest step is, I can do whatever you ask me to do. “
His coach Eric Spoilstra clearly heard that.
“This is what he wanted, this is what we wanted,” Spolstra said. “It’s hard to analyze or explain Jimmy until you feel between the four lines. He’s a supreme, elite competitor and we need it.”
See | Butler, Heat Top Lakers in Game 3:
This is the third 40-point triple-double in the history of the finals. Butler scored 14 for 20 off the field and after the Heat handed over a double lead early in the fourth, he made sure not to miss out.
“He’s one of the best competitors we have in our game,” said Lakers LeBron James. “Love that opportunity. For me, personally, I do not know how many more opportunities I’ve going to get.
James had 25 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists for the Lakers, while Kyle Kuzma and Markif Morris had 19 points each. Anthony Davis scored 15 for the Lakers.
Game 4 Tuesday night. For Miami, Tyler Herro and Kelly Olinick each scored 17 points, 13 from Duncan Robinson and 12 from Jay Crowder.
“The players have increased this whole playoffs, which is no different for us now,” Crowder said.
When the Heat is ready to pull control of Game 3, the Lakers have always found a way to find their best gear.
Heat lead of 13 points in the beginning? The Lakers took the lead within five minutes.
A 14-point Heat lead after 10-0 to start the second half? The Lakers scored the next eight runs.
Heat lead of 12 points in third place? The Lakers took less than five minutes to make it 20-6, with Rajon Rondo leading 8:55 with a 91-89 lead.
“We were almost fighting the whole game,” Morris said.
The final punch went to Miami, with Butler unwilling to push his team back 3-0. The only time Miami lost 2-0 in the finals was in 2006, when Dwayne Wade took over and led the Heat back to the franchise’s first title.
This time, it was Butler – another Marquette man like Wade – in that role, at least on Sunday night.
“We know how Jimmy is in these moments, and the world has seen what Jimmy Butler is capable of,” Hero said.
Miami’s starters outscored the Lakers’ opening five 89-51, and kept the Heat Lakers 3-point from 14- to 42 at night.
‘We don’t care’
James, who has won two titles with the Heat, is at least not surprised that Miami has shown up to fight.
“I know how resilient that bunch is and how resilient the coaching staff and their franchise are,” James said. “Also, I don’t think we’re worried. We ‘re not worried. We know we can play very well. We have another chance to get into the Commanding lead on Tuesday.”
It didn’t take long for Butler and the Heat to forget Sunday and start watching Game 4.
This is a tough game, Game 4, “said Hero.” But we will be ready. “