Jimmy Butler poured in 40 points, finished with a triple-double and did just about everything to lead the Miami Heat to a 115-104 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night.
After outworking and outexecuting the Lakers throughout the night, the Heat have cut LA’s series lead to 2-1.
“Win,” Butler said simply in his postgame interview. “I don’t care about triple-doubles. I don’t care about none of that. I really don’t. I want to win. We did that. I’m happy with the outcome.”
Miami was playing its second straight game without all-star Bam Adebayo (neck/shoulder) and point guard Goran Dragic (torn left plantar fascia).
Butler raised his game, finishing with 13 assists, 11 rebounds, two steals and two blocks. He made 14 of 20 shots from the floor and 12 of 14 from the free-throw line.
Butler joined LeBron James and Jerry West as the only players to have a 40-point triple-double in the NBA Finals, according to ESPN Sports and Information.
James led the Lakers on Sunday night with 25 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Anthony Davis, who was dominant for Los Angeles in the first two games, was slowed by early foul trouble and scored just 15 points with five rebounds.
The Heat built a lead as big as 14 points in the third quarter, ultimately taking an 85-80 lead into the fourth.
The Lakers went on an 8-0 run early in the final period to pull ahead, but Butler and Miami took control again down the stretch.
“I think we realized that we belong,” Butler said.
Tyler Herro and Kelly Olynyk each scored 17 for the Heat.
The Lakers got 19 points apiece off the bench from Kyle Kuzma and Markieff Morris.
Whether Miami gets Adebayo and/or Dragic back remains to be seen — the series will now extend at least to a Game 5 on Friday — but they keep lobbying to play.
“I can see the anguish literally in the eyes, both of them,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said before the game. “And everybody in the locker room feels it. When you’re in the elite percentile of being a competitor in this league, get to this stage and have unfortunate injuries ... I know in their soul, they both will do anything to get out there.”
Game 4 is Tuesday night on Local 10, with the coverage beginning with “Countdown to Tip-off” at 8 p.m.