Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat are a game away from the Eastern Conference finals.
Miami’s stunning run through the NBA playoffs continued Friday night, with Butler scoring 30 points and the Heat putting together a dominant fourth-quarter rally to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 115-100 on Friday night.
The Heat outscored Milwaukee 40-13 in the fourth quarter — the biggest such final-quarter margin in NBA playoff history — to take a 3-0 series lead. No team in NBA history has ever successfully rallied from a 3-0 deficit.
“We’ve been proving people wrong all year,” Bam Adebayo said.
Adebayo had 20 points and 16 rebounds, and Jae Crowder had 17 points to help the Heat improve to 7-0 in this postseason. Brook Lopez scored 22 points for Milwaukee, which got 21 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists from Giannis Antetokounmpo — who twisted an ankle in the first quarter and appeared to labor at times.
Butler had 17 of his points in the fourth, and the Heat pulled off their biggest fourth-quarter playoff comeback ever. They were down 10 going into the fourth quarter of Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals against San Antonio, the game where Ray Allen sent it to overtime with a 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left on the way to Miami’s most recent title.
Miami had other ideas.
Tyler Herro opened the fourth with a 3-pointer, Goran Dragic made another 3 about three minutes later to cut the deficit to four, and the Heat were off and running. Butler had the next nine Miami points as the Heat went back on top, and he set Adebayo up for a short basket with 4:20 remaining to restore a 100-99 lead.
And Butler might have delivered the dagger with a pass; he found Jae Crowder for a left-wing 3-pointer with 2:15 left to put Miami up 107-100.
Butler knew it was good — he was running the other way, his arm in the air, before Crowder’s shot even found the inside of the net. It was part of a 15-1 run that sealed the deal.
Milwaukee needed less than five minutes to go on a 21-6 run that put the Bucks up 87-73 late in the third. Lopez and George Hill combined for the first 11 points of that run.
But the fourth, all Miami.
Lakers shocked by Rockets in Game 1
The Los Angeles Lakers are playing from behind again in these NBA playoffs.
James Harden scored 36 points and the Houston Rockets ran away from the Lakers 112-97, the second straight round the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference lost its opener.
They sure didn’t look tired, flying around the court all night to make up for the size disadvantage they face with their small-ball style. They forced 17 turnovers that led to 27 turnovers and played the much bigger Lakers even on the backboards.
The Lakers never led after the first quarter and the Rockets blew it open by starting the fourth with a 16-3 run, turning a six-point advantage into a 101-82 cushion on Harden’s basket with 7:15 to play.
Anthony Davis had 25 points and 14 rebounds for the Lakers. LeBron James had 20 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
The Rockets committed to playing small in February, believing they weren’t built to compete with the best of the West playing conventionally. They debuted their style with a victory over the Lakers in Los Angeles and proved again why it they think it can work.
They were constantly on the move defensively, deflecting passes and corralling loose balls
It’s the kind of plays they have to make while staring a lineup that has nobody taller than 6-foot-8 Robert Covington. They opened the game with 6-3 Gordon guarding the James and Harden defending 7-footer JaVale McGee.
The Lakers playing for only the second time in 11 days. They beat Portland in Game 4 of their series on Aug. 24, but then didn’t play again until five nights later after the playoffs were delayed as players and the NBA committed to finishing the season following the Milwaukee Bucks’ decision not to play a game as a statement against racial injustice.
Clippers’ Harrell wins 6th man of the year
Montrezl Harrell won the NBA’s Sixth Man Award, keeping the honour for the league’s top reserve with the Los Angeles Clippers for the third straight season.
Harrell received 58 first-place votes from a panel of 100 sports writers and broadcasters, earning 397 points. Dennis Schroder of Oklahoma City was second with 35 first-place votes and 328 points, while Williams got the other seven first-place votes and 127 points.
The Clippers averaged 51.5 points from their bench, continuing to get strong play from their second unit. Before Williams’ consecutive awards, Jamal Crawford won the last of his three awards in 2016.
Harrell is a 6-foot-8 force of energy, outworking fellow big men on the boards and outracing them on fast breaks. He averaged a career-best 18.6 points in 63 games, including two starts, through March 11.
Voting took account only games through that point and none during the restart. Harrell didn’t play during that after leaving the team because of his grandmother’s death, but returned to help the Clippers into the second round of the playoffs.