Butler takes Miami Heat to first win in NBA finals series
Lake Buena Vista, US, Oct 4 (efe-epa).- Forward Jimmy Butler put up his best all-round playoff performance with a triple-double of 40 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds to lead the Miami Heat to a 115-104 win against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 3 of the NBA Finals at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on Sunday.
With the Heat’s surprise victory, the best-of-seven series stands at 1-2 with the Lakers leading.
Despite the absence of starters Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo, both hurt, for the second consecutive game, this time, the Heat, thanks to Butler, not only secured their first win of the series but also proved that they play better with reserves.
Butler put up only the 3rd 40-point triple-double in NBA Finals history against a team, whose two stars, center Anthony Davis and forward LeBron James, failed to display the intensity they had shown in the previous two games.
Butler shot 14-of-20 from the field and 12-of-14 from the free throw line in addition to making two steals and two blocks.
By half-time, Butler had scored 19 points and made six assists, six rebounds and two steals to take the Heat to a four point lead over their rivals with the score at 58-54.
The only other player to do all that in a first half this season was Minnesota Timberwolves’ center Karl-Anthony Towns against the Charlotte Hornets on Oct. 25.
Along with Butler, rookie guard Tyler Herro and Canadian center Kelly Olynyk, who came off the bench, scored 17 points each as the second-highest scorers for the Miami team.
Guard Duncan Robinson and forward Jae Crowder added another 13 and 12 points respectively.
James was the leading scorer for the Lakers with a double-double of 25 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, which were not enough to pull his team to a win.
James, 35, now has 843 assists, which is 22 more than anyone else this season, while Denver Nuggets’ center Nikola Jokic is in second place with 621.
This is the largest margin between the first and second in the NBA since 2004-05, when Steve Nash (1,031) had 363 more assists than Stephon Marbury (668).
Power forward reserves, Kyle Kuzma and Markieff Morris, scored 19 points each.
Davis played for 33 minutes and finished with 15 points off 6-of-9 field goals, including a 3-pointer from two attempts, and 2-2 from the free throw line.
But unlike in the previous two games, Davis did not dominate inside the paint and finished with five rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Game 4 will be played at the same venue on Tuesday. EFE-EPA