NBA regular season

Jimmy Butler waxes clutch as Heat escape Pacers

Jimmy Butler waxes clutch as Heat escape Pacers

CLUTCH. Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) dives for a loose ball in front of Indiana Pacers guard Buddy Hield (24) in the second half at Gainbridge Fieldhouse

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports-Reuters

Jimmy Butler scores 7 of his 20 points in the 4th quarter as the Miami Heat deal the Indiana Pacers a 5-point loss

Jimmy Butler scored seven of his 20 points during a pivotal fourth-quarter run to lead the Miami Heat to an 87-82 defeat of the Indiana Pacers on Monday (Tuesday, December 13, Manila time) in Indianapolis.

On a night in which offense came at a premium for both teams — the Heat shot 38.6 percent from the floor and the Pacers shot 35.4 percent — Butler’s late-game eruption spanning just 45 seconds of game time proved a critical aberration.

He accounted for every point in a 7-0 run that turned a 77-75 lead into a nine-point advantage with 2:26 left. It marked Miami’s largest lead after coughing up a 19-point advantage in the second quarter.

The Heat pulled ahead midway through the period 43-24 before giving up an 18-2 run. Miami scored just four points over the final 6:07, and its offense continued to struggle as Indiana rallied to take the lead in the third quarter.

The Pacers’ own offensive woes — including shooting just 11 of 39 from 3-point range — prevented them from leading by any more than five points. By the time Victor Oladipo connected on a 3-pointer near the end of the third quarter, the Heat had a lead they held for almost the entire fourth quarter.

Buddy Hield, who scored a team-high 19, made a 3-pointer in the final minute to pull Indiana to within four points, but the host Pacers could come no closer after Butler’s decisive flurry.

Bam Adebayo joined Butler as Miami’s only other scorer in double figures. He finished with 22, 15 of which came in the first half. Adebayo also grabbed 12 of his game-high 17 rebounds before intermission.

Andrew Nembhard scored 18 for the Pacers. Myles Turner recorded a double-double of 15 points and 13 rebounds, and Aaron Nesmith added 12 points.

Miami’s defense on Tyrese Haliburton was central as the Heat held Indiana’s offensive standout to a season-low one point on 0-for-9 shooting from the field — a game removed from Haliburton hitting his season high of 35 points — and limiting the NBA’s assists leader to six. –

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