Jimmy Butler of the Miami Heat rises to sneak two of the 40 points he accumulated in Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Lakers. (Mark J. Terrill)
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida. – Jimmy Butler is not ready to go home.
After a 'triple-double', Butler joined NBA Finals lore and stories, and the Miami Heat's sketchy roster may have shown they have what it takes to make this championship series interesting.
Butler finished with 40 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists, and the Heat beat the Los Angeles Lakers 115-104 on Sunday to go 2-1 – and they got them even though starters Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic still couldn't play due to an injury.
In the third 40-point triple-double in Finals history, Butler produced the game of his life when the Heat needed it most. He shot 20-14 from the field, and after Miami gave up a 10-plus point lead early in the fourth period, he made sure the win didn't slip away.
“Victoria,” Butler said. “I'm not interested in 'triple-doubles.' I do not care anything about that. I don't really care about them. I want to win and we did that. I am happy with the result ”.
Game four is Tuesday at 8:30 pm Tyler Herro and Kelly Olynyk each scored 17 points for Miami, which also had 13 from Duncan Robinson and 12 from Jae Crowder.
LeBron James had 25 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists for the Lakers, while Kyle Kuzma and Markieff Morris amassed 19 points each off the bench. Anthony Davis had 15 for the Lakers.
Every time the Heat seemed ready to take off and take control of this third game, the Lakers found a way to respond appropriately.
A 13-point lead from the Heat early on? The Lakers regained the lead in less than five minutes.
Miami's 14-point lead after a 10-0 run to start the second half? The Lakers scored the next eight.
A 12-point Heat lead at the end of the third? It took the Lakers less than five minutes to put together a 20-6 run, taking the lead at 91-89 with 8:55 left on a Rajon Rondo layup.
But the rest of the way it was all Miami, as Butler just wasn't about to let his team fall to 3-0. The only other time Miami was down 2-0 in a Final was in 2006, when Dwyane Wade took over and brought the Heat back.
This time, it was Butler – another former Marquette player – in that role.
“I think we realized that we belong on this level,” Butler said.
Miami dominated 22-9 after eight minutes of play, as they came out in desperate spirits to show they deserve to be in the Final and the Lakers looked nothing like a team approaching a championship. They had nine turnovers in the same span of time that it took them to score nine points.
Games change quickly, and the Lakers regained the lead with 10:09 left at the half. Kyle Kuzma's three-point play gave the Lakers a 29-28 lead, and Alex Caruso's 3-pointer gave the Lakers their biggest lead of the half, 37-33, to punctuate what was a 28- eleven.
The Heat responded with an 11-0 flurry to regain the lead. Davis made his third foul with 5:28 to play and with Miami leading by five, but the Lakers resisted his absence and entered the half-time break with a 58-54 lead.