Basketball

NBA Finals Game 5: Butler and Heat ice Lakers' celebrations

Jimmy Butler starred again as the Miami Heat defeated LA Lakers 111-108 to close the series gap to 3-2.

By Ken Browne ·

The confetti machines were primed, but a Jimmy Butler masterclass popped a cork in the cannons.

The Miami Heat won Game 5 111-108 in Los Angeles to cut the LA Lakers' series lead to 3-2.

The Lakers, wearing their Kobe Bryant Black Mamba tribute uniforms, led with 25.1 seconds on the clock but couldn't close it out with Rio 2016 gold medallist Butler staking a claim for series MVP.

'Jimmy Buckets' had his second 35-point-plus triple double of the Finals, with 35 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists and five steals in 47 minutes on the court to keep his team alive.

Not even LeBron James' 40 points and 13 rebounds could finish the job with the star forward on the verge of his fourth NBA ring and the Lakers one win from a record-equalling 17th Championship.

But they have two more chances to get it done, the first coming in Game 6 on Sunday night in the Orlando bubble.

"Still fighting" - Butler

"We're still fighting, we're in it to win it," Butler said after the game.

“This is the position that we’re in and we like it this way,” he continued, “and we’ve got two more to get.”

The Lakers had a chance to win the game with James triple-teamed as he drove to the hoop, kicking out to Danny Green wide open for a three-point attempt with just eight seconds on the clock.

There were flashes of Anthony Davis against Denver just two weeks ago, Robert Horry's buzzer-beater for the Lakers against Sacramento in the 2002 Western Conference Finals, and that moment in The Last Dance when Michael Jordan trusts Steve Kerr.

But Green's shot fell short and the Heat held on to win by three.

“It was a little bit of luck that Danny Green missed that shot at the top of the key,” Butler said.

James said, "We got a hell of a look to win the game, to win the series. It didn’t go down."

"Study Jimmy Butler"

“Every young player coming into this league should study footage on Jimmy Butler," claimed Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.

"The definition of a two-way player competing on both ends, five steals, and then making those big plays down the stretch for us offensively."

But how much of a toll will those 47 minutes have taken on Jimmy Butler before Game 6?

Can he come up big like that again?

Davis injured

One half of the Lakers' double threat, Anthony Davis, sparkling in his shiny gold sneakers, went down early holding his heel.

He reappeared to play through the pain for 28 points, but the Heat just did enough with Butler backed up by Duncan Robinson who hit seven three-pointers in his tally of 26.

Kendrick Nunn (14), Bam Adebayo (13), Tyler Herro (12) and Jae Crowder (11) also chipped in as Miami live to fight another day.

Robinson knew where most of the praise was due post-game.

"That’s Jimmy. He took us home. He does whatever it takes to win. He hit some shots. He made plays on both sides of the court. He willed it.

"It’s not always pretty, but he always finds a way. I’m just glad he’s in our locker room." - Duncan Robinson on Heat team-mate Jimmy Butler