Jimmy Butler dropped his second triple-double in three games and Duncan Robinson added 26 points as the Miami Heat beat the Los Angeles Lakers 111-108 in an instant classic in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Friday.
Butler hit two free throws with 16.8 seconds remaining to put the Heat up 109-108. On the other end, Lakers guard Danny Green missed a game-winning three-pointer with 7.1 seconds left. Lakers forward Markieff Morris grabbed the offensive board, but he threw the ball out of bounds on a pass attempt.
Heat guard Tyler Herro knocked down two free throws in response after being fouled.
The Lakers, without any timeouts, had 1.6 seconds remaining to make a three-point attempt after inbounding from full court. Point guard Rajon Rondo got the ball into Lakers guard/forward LeBron James, but his half-court shot was off the mark.
James scored a game-high 40 points on 15-of-21 shooting (6-of-9 from three-point range) with 13 rebounds, seven assists and three steals. Butler posted 35 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists and five steals, just a few nights after dropping a 40-point triple-double in Game 3.
The Heat now trail the Lakers three games to two in the best-of-seven matchup.
L.A. is looking to win its first NBA title in 10 years and its 17th overall, which would push the Lakers into a tie with the Boston Celtics for the most NBA Finals wins of all time.
The Heat are looking for their fourth-ever NBA title and first since 2013.
Lakers G/F LeBron James: 40 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals
Lakers F/C Anthony Davis: 28 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 3 blocks
Lakers SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: 16 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists
Heat SF Jimmy Butler: 35 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists, 5 steals
Heat SG Duncan Robinson: 26 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists
Heat C Bam Adebayo: 13 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds
Butler Wills Heat To Win
There's little sense in trying to describe what went down in the Association on Friday between the Heat and Lakers.
In short, it was one of the best NBA Finals games in recent memory, in part because it featured one of the best one-on-one duels in the league's championship history.
One can look at the box score and check out Butler and James' eye-popping statistics, but the ways in which they dropped those buckets and made those plays tell the true story.
For starters, Butler beat the shot clock and game clock to hit a huge three-pointer to end the first half with Kyle Kuzma defending:
Butler finished the first half with 22 points, six assists and six rebounds en route to giving Miami a 60-56 halftime edge:
Obviously, he was not done.
Butler dominated in the mid-range, hitting a jumper over center Dwight Howard:
He did the same thing to Anthony Davis as well in fourth-quarter crunch time:
Butler eventually hit the game-winning free throws, and by the time the game was over, he had made more history or joined very exclusive company:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
The Lakers were outscored 15-9 in clutch-time of Game 5. Jimmy Butler accounted for more points (11) in clutch-time than the Lakers by himself. This was the 2nd time all season that LeBron James and Anthony Davis combined for 60+ points and the Lakers lost. https://t.co/SeKktJ9hxZ
The Heat needed everything that they could get out of Butler on a night where much of Miami went cold from the field outside the scorching-hot Duncan Robinson.
Miami got that phenomenal effort over 47 minutes, and he somehow summoned the energy to push the Heat to Game 6, where they'll look for another win to fight another day.
James Pulls Off Epic Performance in Defeat
One wonders what might have been had James knocked down that turnaround half-court shot attempt to win the game at the buzzer. If he nailed it, then his night would easily be considered one of the single-best individual performances in NBA Finals history.
That shot never went down, and the Lakers lost, but James still produced an incredible performance, even by his sky-high standards.
The 17th-year player and four-time NBA MVP was an unstoppable force everywhere on the court. He hit 15-of-21 shots (6-of-9 from three-point range) en route to his 40 points. He kept L.A. in the game on a night where Butler seemingly could do no wrong and Duncan Robinson rained threes to stay a step ahead for much of the evening.
Once again, his great chemistry with Anthony Davis was on full display as he charged down the court and found his All-Star teammate for a slam dunk off a lob:
He dominated from three-point range and bulldozed through the lane with relative ease:
James finished the first half with 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting. Like Butler, he was not finished.
The King scored 19 more second-half points en route to nearly bringing the Lakers their first NBA title in 10 years. He took a page out of Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard's playbook and hit a three-pointer from the logo:
With the Lakers down 11 early in the fourth quarter, James kickstarted a late rally with yet another three:
He kept finding his teammates for open looks and took care of business himself at times:
The Lakers eventually took a 108-107 lead off an Anthony Davis putback layup, but the Heat scored the final four points down the stretch for the win.
Still, that shouldn't take away from another epic James performance in the NBA Finals. Game 5 was a heavyweight classic thanks in large part to him, and fans are lucky enough to see at least one more game between James' Lakers and Butler's Heat.
Game 6 of the NBA Finals will take place Sunday at 7:30 p.m. ET. If the Heat win, the series-deciding Game 7 will occur on Tuesday at 9 p.m. ABC will televise both games.