Jimmy Butler, Heat set NBA free-throw record, beat OKC 112-111

Jimmy Butler made the last free throw of the night, then bent his knees a bit and almost looked unsure of what was going to happen as the ball reached the rim.

Turns out it was perfect, and so was Miami on Tuesday night.

The Heat set an NBA record 40 free throws, the last of which came on Butler’s three-point play with 12.9 seconds left, and rallied in the final moments to beat the ‘Oklahoma City Thunder by 112-111.

Miami outscored Utah’s 39-for-39 effort against Portland on Dec. 7, 1982.

“It’s just a normal Tuesday night for the Miami Heat,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I think that’s when we feel most alive, when everything happens and when all our competitive juices come out. This is the team we can all relate to. This is the team I like.”

Here’s just some of what happened Tuesday: The Heat played without six injured players, including four starters; Heat safety center Dewayne Dedmon was ejected after arguing with his own team and hitting a massage gun on the court during the game from the sideline; Miami had a six-point possession in the fourth quarter; and Josh Giddey had a triple-double for the Thunder.

Oh, and the line drive.

“Credit them, first of all, for that,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. “That’s impressive.”

Butler scored 35 points and was 23-for-23 from the line, tying for the second-most foul marks in NBA history. James Harden went 24 for Houston on December 3, 2019, and Dirk Nowitzki went 24 for Dallas in a playoff game against the Thunder on May 17, 2011. Dominique Wilkins also went 23 for 23 in a match in 1992.

“We won,” Butler said. “Complete team effort. I’m proud of my guys.”

Max Strus scored 22 points and Victor Oladipo had 19 for Miami. The Heat were without four regular starters — Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo, Kyle Lowry and Caleb Martin — due to injuries.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 26 points for the Thunder. Giddey finished with 18 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists, completing the triple-double with an assist that set up Aaron Wiggins’ dunk for a 111-106 lead with 1:28 left.

Miami scored the last six points.

“Whatever it takes to win,” Butler said.

Miami led 89-88 entering the fourth, and with Butler on the bench—he had played the entire third quarter—the Thunder took advantage. They scored the first six points of the final period, taking their first lead of more than three points when Tre Mann connected on a jumper with 9:20 left for a 94-89 lead.

But a six-point possession gave Miami the lead. Oladipo made a steal and Thunder center Eugene Omoruyi was called for a flagrant foul. Oladipo made both free throws, and on Miami’s ensuing possession, Gabe Vincent made a 3-pointer while being fouled by Mann. Vincent made the free throw, and just like that, a 96-91 deficit became a 97-96 deficit.

“We always talk about finding a way to win. … This is a good start,” Butler said.

Report from The Associated Press.

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