Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Heat set record: 40 of 40 on free throws

MIAMI – Jimmy Butler made the final free throw of the night, then slightly bent his knees and seemed almost unsure what would happen as the ball made its way to the rim.

As it turned out, it was perfect, just like the Miami Heat on Tuesday night.

He set an NBA record by making 40 of his free throws, the last on a Butler three-point play with 12.9 seconds remaining, and rallied in the closing moments to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder 112–111.

Miami surpassed Utah’s 39 points on December 7, 1982, against Portland.

“It’s just a normal Tuesday night for the Miami Heat,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I think now is when we feel most alive, when everything is just and when all our competitive players come out. That’s the team we can all identify with. That’s the team that I like it.”

Some of what happened Tuesday: The Heat played without six injured players, including four starters; Heat backup center Dwayne Dedmon was ejected after brawling with his own teammate and hitting a massage gun on the court during a game off the bench; Miami had a six-point possession in the fourth quarter and Josh Gide had a triple-double for the Thunder.

Oh, and check out the line.

“First of all, I give them credit,” said Thunder coach Marc Dagneault. “That’s awesome.”

Butler scored 35 points and went 23-for-23 from the line, tying for the second-most shots without a miss in NBA history. James Harden made 24 without a miss for Houston on December 3, 2019, and Dirk Nowitzki made 24 without a miss for Dallas on May 17, 2011 in a playoff game against the Thunder. Dominique Wilkins also went 23 of 23 in one game in 1992. ,

“We won,” Butler said. “Full team effort. I’m so proud of my friends.”

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

Shai Gilgius-Alexander scored 26 points for the Thunder. Gide finished with 18 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists, notching a triple-double with an assist that set up Aaron Wiggins’ dunk for a 111–106 lead with 1:28 to play.

Miami scored the last six points.

Butler said, “Do whatever it takes to win.”

Miami led 89–88 entering the fourth, and with Butler playing the entire third quarter, the Thunder took the lead. They scored the first six points of the final period, taking their first lead of more than three points when Tre Mann hit a jumper with 9:20 remaining for a 94–89 lead.

But a six-point possession put the lead back in Miami. Oladipo stole and Thunder center Eugene Omoruyi was called for a foul. Oladipo made both free throws, and on Miami’s next possession, Gabe Vincent hit a 3-pointer while Mann fouled him. Vincent made the free throw and just like that, a 96–91 deficit was a 97–96 lead.

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

Nation World News Desk
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