Erik Spoelstra on Jimmy Butler’s game winner: ‘I wish I knew’

Jimmy Butler tied LeBron James for the second-most, last-second game-winners in Miami Heat franchise history.
Chicago Bulls v Miami Heat
Chicago Bulls v Miami Heat / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

When the Miami Heat needed a bucket, coach Erik Spoelstra trusted his star player to get the job done.

With 12 seconds remaining in a tied game against the Chicago Bulls Saturday night, Butler secured a rebound off a Bulls miss and started bringing the ball up the court. Spoelstra didn’t call a timeout, opting to let Butler play through.

Kyle Lowry and Kevin Love set a pair of screens on the left side of the floor, prompting the Bulls to switch. Butler went to the right side of the floor and drew Coby White one on one in isolation. Butler crossed over to the paint, stepped back and drained a jumper over White’s outstretched arm.

Game. The bench cleared, Kaseya Center erupted, and the Heat beat the Bulls, 118-116, thanks to Butler’s walk-off jumper.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has seen many game-winners, but Saturday's was the first of its kind for Jimmy Butler.

“He was just extremely comfortable where he got the ball, got to his spot,” Spoelstra said. “There’s nothing like having a walk-off. I wish I knew what that actually felt like.” 

The shot marked Butler’s second game-winner with less than a second left since joining the Heat, according to’s Couper Moorhead. It’s Butler’s only go-ahead shot in a Heat uniform as time expired.

Butler finished with a game-high 28 points on 9-of-18 shooting and 10-of-11 from the foul line, four rebounds, two assists, two steals and the most important rebound and score of the game.

“K-Love set a great first screen, Kyle on the second one, I came off of there, get to your spot and shoot your shot,” Butler recalled. “Anybody can make that shot. All in all, it’s just really dope to win because wins are super hard to come by in this league.”

Added Love: “Best closer in the game. You get him in that type of situation, we all know who he is and he showed it again tonight.”

This wasn’t the only game-winner Spoelstra has seen as coach of the Heat. Butler has now tied LeBron James, Tim Hardaway and Voshon Lenard for the second-most last-second shots in franchise history. Dwyane Wade is first with three game-winners with less than a second to play.