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Beat the Miami Heat? Not this time.
The Heat live to fight another day in the NBA Finals after staving off elimination with a gritty 111-108 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 on Friday, October 9 (Saturday, October 10, Manila time).
Jimmy Butler hit the biggest shots down the stretch and finished with a triple-double of 35 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists, and 5 steals as the Heat shaved their deficit in the best-of-seven series to 2-3.
LeBron James delivered a virtuoso performance of 40 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals, but his best game in the Finals proved not enough for the Lakers to close the deal.
James and Butler engaged in a fiery back-and-forth battle in the final 3 minutes that saw the lead change 7 times.
But Butler got the last laugh as he knocked down the free throws that gave the Heat a 109-108 lead with 16.8 seconds left, with the Lakers failing to close out the series no thanks to some crucial late-game blunders.
Danny Green muffed the potential go-ahead bucket for the Lakers – a wide-open three-pointer off a James pass – while Markieff Morris threw the ball out of bounds with 2.2 ticks remaining.
“We just played hard,” said Butler, insisting the Heat can become just the second NBA team to rally from a 3-1 deficit and win the championship.
“This one, it was a little bit of luck that Danny Green missed that one at the top of the key.”
Tyler Herro, who chalked up 12 points, secured the win for the Heat by knocking down the last-second free throws.
Duncan Robinson backstopped Butler with 26 points off a 7-of-13 clip from three-point range, Kendrick Nunn had 14 points, Bam Adebayo added 13 points, while Jae Crowder chipped in 11 points.
Miami became the only team in this postseason to drag Los Angeles to a Game 6 as the Heat earned the distinction of the being the first team to beat the Lakers while wearing their “Black Mamba” jerseys in the playoffs.
The Lakers had been undefeated in 4 playoff games while wearing the all-black strip inspired by late franchise great Kobe Bryant and they hoped to wrap up the series sporting the same kit.
But the Heat pulled out all the stops to prevent that from happening as Butler recorded his second finals triple-double and Robinson issued his finest game in the championship series.
Anthony Davis put up 28 points, 12 rebounds, 3 steals, and 3 blocks for the Lakers – bucking a suspected right heel contusion – while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope contributed 16 points.
No other Lakers player scored in double figures. – Rappler.com