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NBA Finals: Five takeaways as Miami Heat stave off elimination with 111-108 win over Lakers

Jimmy Butler continued his outstanding Finals with a triple-double

Tom D'Angelo
Palm Beach Post
Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) shoots the ball against Lakers forward Markieff Morris (88) during the fourth quarter in game five of the 2020 NBA Finals at AdventHealth Arena on Friday.

The Los Angeles Lakers were all set to depart the bubble. The Miami Heat and Jimmy Butler were not ready to leave.

Seizing control of the game in the second quarter, and then having to rally late, the Heat defeated the Lakers, 111-108, Friday in Lake Buena Vista to force a Game 6 Sunday. The Lakers still are in control with a 3-2 series lead.

Butler had his second triple-double of the series with 35 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. He was 11 of 19 from the floor. Butler’s main source of help in this game was Duncan Robinson, who had his best game of the playoffs with 26 points. Robinson took 13 3-pointers, making seven.

“We just played hard, got to what we wanted to get on offense, shared the ball,” Butler said.

More:Tyler Herro embodies confidence of Heat, but even that probably won't be enough to prevent Lakers from winning NBA championship

More:LeBron James explains why he walked off court in closing seconds of Game 3 loss to Heat

The Lakers were hoping to win the title while honoring former Lakers great Kobe Bryant, who died in helicopter crash on Jan. 26. They wore the “Black Mamba” City Edition jerseys that Bryant collaborated on the design with Nike.  Entering the game, L.A. was 4-0 in the playoffs when wearing those jerseys

LeBron James did what he could to end this series, finishing with 40 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists. Anthony Davis added 28 points and 12 rebounds.

“We can’t celebrate this for too long, we got to move on and rest up and get ready for another one,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

Here are our five takeaways:

Butler with another gem: Butler, who had a 40-point triple double in Miami's Game 3 win, played 47 minutes and after looking fatigued early in the fourth quarter, he found another gear, willing the Heat to victory. He scored eight straight Heat points before Tyler Herro’s two free throws with 1.6 seconds left sealed the win.

Butler, again, was aggressive from the start, taking the ball to the basket and even challenging Dwight Howard early when they had to be separated. They each picked up a technical foul.

Butler helped the Heat build an 11-point lead in the second quarter, finishing with 22 points, including a 3-pointer with just more than a second to play, his third 3-pointer of the Finals.

Butler and Howard again were involved in a physical play in the third quarter when Butler went up for an offensive tap in and was hit on the head by Howard attempting to block the tap. The ball went in and Howard was called for a common foul and a flagrant 1 foul. Butler went to the floor holding his head.

“Jimmy again, his will to win was remarkable and to do that for 47 minutes,” Spoelstra said. “The definition of a two-way player, competing on both ends."

Heavyweight fight: This game will be remembered for James and Butler going back and forth in the final minutes.

Miami controlled the game for the second and third quarters, but a 17-3 Lakers run, capped by a Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 3-pointer, gave L.A. its first lead, 97-96, since 18-17.

After a Robinson 3-pointer with 3:14 to play, it became the James-Butler show. They traded baskets or free throws on the next six possessions.

But with Miami leading 107-106, Davis grabbed a Pope air ball and just beat the shot clock to give the Lakers a 108-107 lead with 21.8 seconds to play.

Butler, though, was not done. He went to the basket and was fouled by Anthony Davis with 16.8 seconds to play. The two free throws gave Miami a 109-108 lead.

Defense wins it: The Lakers has one last chance to close out the series, but Danny Green was short on a 3-point attempt and Markieff Morris then threw away the ball, leading to Herro’s free throws that closed it out.

Miami was going to make sure James did not beat them on the possession and packed the paint, leaving Green open. Both Butler and Spoelstra called Miami lucky.

“At the end of the day, I like those decisions,” Spoelstra said. “We had everybody in the paint. LeBron had a bunch of those possessions in the fourth quarter where he was getting to the rim. We needed to bring not only a second defender, but a third defender and then they cut and Danny Green was there.”

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) shoots the ball against Miami Heat forward Bam Adebayo (13) during the first quarter of Friday's Game 5 of the NBA Finals at AdventHealth Arena.

LeBron takes over: Sure, Davis had 28 points, but it was James who the Lakers relied upon to try to close out this series.

James scored nine consecutive Lakers points, his final two from the line giving L.A. a 107-106 lead.

Late in the first quarter, Davis went to the floor and grabbed the back of his right foot. Davis limped off the court, but never left the bench area as it was determined he had re-aggravated a bruise on his heel

Davis returned 3 ½ minutes into the second quarter and although it took some time to get into the flow, he heated up just in time with a dunk and a 3-pointer late in the half that helped the Lakers cut into what was an 11-point Miami lead and head into halftime trailing by four.

Role players step up: Butler had help from Robinson and Kendrick Nunn, two players who were undrafted and two who had their best game of the Finals.

Robinson looked as confident as he has all postseason, shooting without hesitation. Robinson had one of Miami’s two four-point plays in the third quarter, the other belonging to Jae Crowder. Robinson was fouled by Kyle Kuzma while making a 3 and hit the free throw to extend Miami’s lead to 86-80. Earlier, Crowder was fouled by Rajon Rondo on his made 3-pointer. Crowder also made the free throw as Miami finished two four-point plays, a rarity. 

Nunn came off the bench to score 14 points, making 6 of 11 shots. He had a huge 3 that gave Miami a six-point lead midway through the fourth quarter.