Jimmy Butler scored 36 points to lead the Miami Heat to a 122-115 victory over the Brooklyn Nets Thursday at Kaseya Center. The game marked Miami’s seventh straight win and Butler’s second consecutive game scoring 30 or more.
After a slow start to the season, Butler has finally awakened, posting some masterful performances like it’s the playoffs. He was able to find his rhythm early in this one, leading to open perimeter shots for Duncan Robinson and Jaime Jaquez Jr. The veteran forward added five rebounds and three blocks.
“At this point whatever it takes to win," Butler said. "I think we did a good job in the second half guarding. Very, very proud of us for that."
A massive game from Robinson helped him be the Robin to Butler’s Batman. Robinson fired in six triples and continued to show his improved skills inside the paint. He ended the matchup with 26 points, shooting 60% from 3-point range.
“Dunc’s (Duncan Robinson) a hooper," Butler said. "I think everybody, you know, they skip over a lot of his skillset and they only focus on his three-point shooting ability. He’s actually not the best 3-point shooter on our team as we’re speaking, but he’s been hooping,” said Butler, who is shooting a hair under 50% from 3-point range for the season.
Miami earned its highest-scoring game of the season with 122 total points, which was bred through ball movement right off the tip. They had 26 assists and only nine turnovers, despite being extremely aggressive. The trust and comfortability in Erik Spoelstra’s lineups continue to grow as the season progresses.
"Things are not going to go perfectly down the stretch, but we’re getting a little bit more organized, more comfortable, and that allows you to be more confident,” said Spoelstra.
Free throws were a huge factor in the Heat’s success. While both teams had 20 fouls in the contest, Miami was timely on taking advantage of the bonus and getting to the line in situations when a run needed to be stopped or a lead needed to be extended. They finished the game shooting 23-for-24 from the foul line.
This was also Caleb Martin’s first game back since the season opener. Martin’s been dealing with a knee injury that sidelined him for 10 games. He was on minutes restriction that limited him to 12 on the night, but he was able to make an impact when he was on the floor. Martin was 2-for-3 on 3s and was phenomenal in Miami’s trap defense set, which slowed down Brooklyn’s halfcourt offense.
“I thought he fit in great," Spoelstra said. "He just fits in very seamlessly on how we’ve been playing, and that’s on both ends of the court. He’s just such a quick twitch guy. Once he gets into a better rhythm, it’s only going to complement whatever lineup that he plays with."
The Heat are slowly but surely connecting the puzzle pieces back to their full roster. With the team getting healthier, the Heat will continue to add to what’s already been a deep lineup.