On the second night of a back-to-back set, the Miami Heat were able to overcome a disastrous first half and grind out a 96-95 overtime victory Monday night against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center.
What we learned: Jimmy Butler looks 100%
After suffering a right toe injury that caused him to miss 11 out of the last 12 games, Jimmy Butler made his long-awaited return Monday night.
When Butler came back from his first injury on Dec. 30 against the Utah Jazz, he was moving at a very slow pace and looked like a shell of himself. But Monday night was a different story, with Butler attacking and mismatch-hunting from start to finish.
Butler ended the game with 31 points, shooting 8 for 12 from the floor and 15 of 16 from the free-throw line with two of those makes in overtime giving the Heat their final lead of the game.
"You don't ever forget about his greatness, the fact that he [Butler] can score 31 on 12 shots, that's a misprint and that should be studied by every young player coming into the league where you just don't need to be a chucker," Head head coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Brooklyn had no answer for Butler, who was either getting to his spots with ease or was drawing contact and heading to the charity stripe.
The Heat have been able to still win games without Butler, but their star player performing at this level is what makes the Heat contenders in the East.
Play of the game: Adebayo's relentlessness leads to a huge Herro 3 in overtime
Trailing 95-91, the Heat were on the verge of letting the game slip away with a crucial turnover with under a minute left to go in overtime.
After an off-target pass from Tyler Herro to a rolling Bam Adebayo, Adebayo was able to get a hand on the ball and save the possession. Adebayo then found a wide-open Herro who then hit a 3 to cut the Nets' lead to one.
There were many critical moments in the game, but in a scenario where either a turnover occurs or the Nets secure a rebound off a miss, the Heat would have been down two possessions with under 30 seconds left.
Fortunately, Adebayo, who finished with a team-high 20 rebounds, recovered the ball quickly and made a fast read to Herro who sank a clutch 3-pointer to keep the Heat alive.
Quote of the night: "This was cement"
When asked if Monday night's victory qualified as winning in the mud, Spoelstra raised his eyebrows and replied that the game was more than muddy.
"This was cement, did you see that first half?" Spoelstra said. "I mean, that was about as ugly as it could get."
Brooklyn's ball pressure and ability to switch with Nic Claxton and their wing defenders had the Heat's offense flustered, and led to their worst first half of the year, scoring only 31 points with zero made 3-pointers on 12 attempts.
But in the second half, the Heat got stops and scored in transition, leading to a 37-point third quarter. Miami got back in the game and gave themselves a chance to earn a hard-fought, come-from-behind victory.
And when it mattered most, the Heat's stars had their moments. Prior to Monday, Butler, Adebayo and Herro had played just eight games together this season, but now all three are healthy for Miami's push in the second half of the season.