NBA

NBA Finals: Short-handed Heat defy odds in Game 3 as red-hot Butler sinks Lakers

By Sports Desk October 04, 2020

Jimmy Butler produced a remarkable triple-double performance as the injury-hit Miami Heat stayed alive in the NBA Finals with a 115-104 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Without injured duo Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic and trailing 2-0 in the best-of-seven Finals, the Heat had their backs against the wall amid suggestions they could be swept by the Lakers in Orlando, Florida.

But Butler had other ideas as the five-time All-Star posted 40 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds in Game 3 to cut the Lakers' series lead to 2-1 at Walt Disney World Resort on Sunday.

Butler became the first player with 40-plus points and 12-plus assists in an NBA Finals game since Jerry West in 1969, per Stats Perform.

LeBron James led the Lakers with 25 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and as many turnovers, while team-mate Anthony Davis (15 points) struggled following five turnovers and four fouls.

All eyes were on the top-seeded Lakers, with James and Davis looking to deliver a first championship to the storied franchise in 10 years.

But the Heat impressed from the outset as Lakers star Davis struggled in the third showdown.

Miami raced out to a 22-9 lead and eventually ended the opening quarter 26-23 ahead, with Davis scoreless after four turnovers in eight minutes of play.

James tried to keep the Lakers in the contest but Butler stayed hot, his 19 points, six rebounds and six assists ensuring the Heat led 58-54 at half-time.

The Lakers rallied early in the fourth quarter – back-to-back three-pointers from Markieff Morris (19 points) and Rajon Rondo's layup helping to put the Los Angeles franchise ahead 91-89, having started the final period trailing 85-80.

But Butler and the Heat had all the answers as they avoided going down 3-0 – Tyler Herro and Kelly Olynyk finishing with 17 points apiece, while Duncan Robinson (13) and Jae Crowder (12) made solid contributions.

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    "He'll beat it and very quickly that’s for sure," he told reporters, referring to his own tally of 19 goals in the competition. 

    "The boy has had a great start to his career. It was really good to work with him and to see the potential in him and some parts of me feel proud to have a little bit of an input in such a rise. 

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    However, the time in which the 20-year-old has amassed his tally is remarkable, as he dwarfs his countrymen when it comes to goals per minute. 

    Solskjaer, who famously made a habit out of goalscoring cameos from the bench, got his 19 Champions League goal at a rate of one every 189 minutes, while Carew's ratio was one per 218 minutes. 

    Haaland launched his Champions League career with a hat-trick when Salzburg thrashed Genk 6-2 last September. His scoring frequency has barely let up since, with his 16 tallying at one every 56 minutes. 

    Since that incredible maiden outing, only Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski has scored more in the competition - a haul of 18 during that period playing a big part in the Bundesliga giants' march to glory last season. 

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    Lionel Messi is one of seven players on six goals during the period in question, while Cristiano Ronaldo has five. 

    In terms of minutes-per-goal, Haaland is only bettered by Manchester United's Marcus Rashford, with the England international's total of five arriving at a rate of one every 50.4 minutes - a return bolstered by his hat-trick against RB Leipzig last month. 

    The Dortmund youngster's reputation as a dead-eyed finisher is certainly well-earned, too. 

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    That gap would be just two points if not for the four Juve have dropped from winning positions in the 2020-21 campaign, Benevento coming from behind to force them to settle for their fifth draw from nine league games.

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    One player who has impressed this season is Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey.

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