The Miami Heat on Monday grabbed a primetime, 108-107, victory against the Los Angeles Lakers at home in which the Heat’s stars shined just a little bit brighter.
Jimmy Butler had 28 points, Tyler Herro scored 22 and Bam Adebayo led the Heat with his first triple-double of the season, tallying 22 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists to go along with two blocks and two steals to help the Heat improve to 3-4.
Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler put together their best performances of the season to lift the Heat in a win over LeBron James and the Lakers.
“He really willed us, and in those moments of truth, he was the voice,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He was holding everybody to a higher standard. He’s the heartbeat.”
The Heat led by as many as 13 late in the third quarter but, in has been typical fashion early this season, the Heat saw their lead slip away and the game came down to the final few minutes. The Heat went 1-for-9 from 3-point range in the fourth quarter and coughed up nine turnovers to allow the Lakers to climb back into the game and give them a chance to win on a buzzer-beating 3 by Cam Reddish that rimmed out.
It was LeBron James and Austin Reaves leading the Lakers. James fed off the rowdy crowd in Miami, turning back the clock with a couple of fastbreak dunks. He was loose right from tip-off and ultimately had to pilot a team that lost Anthony Davis (groin injury) and D’Angelo Russell (ejected) throughout the game. James recorded 30 points, four rebounds and three blocks. He was phenomenal on both ends of the floor but wasn’t able to lift the entire load.
James and Butler went head-to-head on both sides of the ball. Each one guarded the other from the opening tip and until the end. While Butler routinely takes on the opponent’s top scorer, James will sometimes take on the opponent’s weaker scorer so that he can help off them and focus on offense. That wasn’t the case on Monday night.
“I wasn’t expecting the other way,” Spoelstra said of James defending Butler. “Jimmy was going to line up against him.
“Jimmy just loves competition,” he continued. “He always wants to guard the other team’s best player. That’s who he’s been all his career and it hasn’t changed as he’s gotten older. You have to really admire that about him, he’s not ducking big matchups. You see some of that in this league.”
The Heat’s victory marked the most complete game they’ve had all season. It’s been a streaky year for Miami, but it seems like the pieces are starting to come together as the team gets healthier. They got some quality minutes from role players like Jaime Jaquez Jr., Duncan Robinson and Haywood Highsmith in the first half that led to an eventual double-digit lead. That was just enough to come away with the win.