By JIMMY GOLEN AP Sports Writer
BOSTON — Jimmy Butler went forehead-to-forehead with the Boston Celtics and came away with another decisive victory.
Butler scored 27 points, hitting back-to-back buckets to tie the score and give Miami the lead, and the eighth-seeded Heat left Boston with a 111-105 victory Friday night and a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
Butler added eight rebounds and six assists. When Grant Williams started jawing with the Miami star – with both players drawing technical fouls for the double head-butt – Butler stared down Williams and the Heat refused to relent.
“I love that gnarly version of Jimmy,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “But you get that regardless. I think now people are just paying more attention. … Jimmy is just a real competitor.”
Bam Adebayo had 22 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists, and Caleb Martin came off the bench to score 25 points for Miami, which returns home with a chance to sweep and become just the second No. 8 seed to reach the NBA Finals.
Game 3 is Sunday night.
Jayson Tatum had 34 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists for Boston. But the Celtics star went 0 for 3 with two turnovers in the fourth quarter, when Boston blew an 89-77 lead en route to a second home loss in three nights. Jaylen Brown scored 16 points on 7-for-23 shooting; he went 1 for 5 with a turnover in the final quarter, when Miami outscored Boston 36-22.
“We’ve got some dogs, and I love it. I love every bit of it,” Butler said on the postgame TV broadcast. “Guys never quit. We never give up. We love playing with one another. We’ve got so much faith and trust in one another.”
The Celtics led by 11 in the third quarter and made it a dozen early in the fourth. It was a 96-87 Boston lead when Butler scored and was fouled by Williams; the two players leaned into each other – drawing double technicals – before Butler hit the ensuing free throw.
“Some healthy competition. I ain’t going to lie to you. Healthy competition. And I love it. I’m always here to compete. I like to talk, at times,” Butler said. “As long as we get the win, I’m good with it.”
After Tatum missed from long distance – one of three missed 3-point attempts in the fourth quarter – Butler drove to the basket to make it a four-point Boston lead. Miami trailed 98-96 when Butler was called for an offensive foul, kicking Marcus Smart after landing on a missed 3-point try.
Spoelstra challenged the call, but lost.
He made a 17-footer to tie it 100-all, and then a short fadeaway to give Miami the lead. After Max Strus made one of two free throws, Adebayo scored on a putback dunk to make it 105-100 with less than a minute to play.
Boston used a 21-2 run to turn an eight-point, first-quarter deficit into an 11-point lead.
Brown was 1 for 7 in the first quarter, when Tatum scored 12. Derrick White, who made a single 3-pointer, was the only player other than Tatum who scored more than two points in the first. … Adebayo and Butler each grabbed five rebounds in the first quarter. … Lowry and Grant Williams did a little shoving after Williams fouled Adebayo with nine minutes left in the second quarter, with no repercussions.
More to come on this story.
Lakers’ LeBron James unfazed by 3-point shooting slump
Alexander: Denver Nuggets, think you get no respect? That’s your small market paranoia showing.
What they’re writing in Denver as Nuggets lead Lakers 2-0
Alexander: After LeBron James’ flop, Nuggets take over against Lakers
Jamal Murray rallies Nuggets past Lakers for 2-0 series lead