Los Angeles Lakers

NBA Finals 2020: Jimmy Butler keeps Miami Heat's season alive with epic 35-point triple-double

The Miami Heat aren't done yet.

Led by Jimmy Butler, the Heat defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in an instant classic to keep their season alive. Butler's 35-point, 12-rebound, 11-assist triple-double helped the Heat overcome a monster performance from LeBron James, who scored a game-high 40 points to go along with 13 rebounds and seven assists.

For more on the game, here are some quick thoughts...

1. LeBron has been doing this for a long time

In taking the court for Game 5, LeBron James tied Derek Fisher for the most playoff games ever played in NBA history (259).

The craziest part about it: LeBron is still going strong. He entered this game averaging 26.9 points, 10.5 rebounds, 8.8 assists and 1.2 steals per game in these playoffs, numbers we've only ever seen from two other players in the postseason before. Even though he's 35 years old, LeBron is showing no signs of slowing down.

This is your reminder that what LeBron is doing isn't normal.

2. There's no stopping the Lakers in transition

The Heat have done a good job of limiting the Lakers in transition in the series, but all it takes is one mistake for LeBron and Anthony Davis to do things like this...

...and this:

That's just unfair.

3. More like Dunkin Robinson, amirite?

According to Basketball Reference, Robinson has four dunks in his NBA career, so, yeah, him swooping in for a putback dunk deserves mention.

Plus, the pun was too good to pass up on.

4. Rookie of the Year finalist Kendrick Nunn shows up

It's been a rough bubble for Nunn.

After starting in all 67 games he appeared in during the regular season, Nunn lost his starting spot to Goran Dragic in the playoffs. As a result, his minutes plummeted from 29.3 during the regular season to 15.3 in the playoffs.

Nunn didn't exactly make a strong case to receive more minutes, but he gave the Heat a much-needed boost in the first half of Game 5, coming off the bench to score 11 points on 5-for-8 shooting from the field and 1-for-2 from 3-point range. That was more than what Nunn scored in Game 3 and Game 4 combined (10).

One thing in particular Nunn did well? With Davis and James playing way off of Butler, Nunn made them pay with a couple of midrange jumpers off of handoffs from Butler.

Nunn finished Game 5 with 14 points in 27 minutes of play. He was the only player off of Miami's bench to score.

Time will tell if Nunn can make a similar impact in Game 6 - the Heat will need it if Dragic is unable to go - but he was a difference-maker in Game 5.

5. LeBron is something else

The whole LeBron-is-showing-no-signs-of-slowing-down thing? He was the reason the Lakers didn't go into the half facing a double-digit deficit.

LeBron was responsible for 21 of the team's 56 points through two quarters of play. Per usual, he did the bulk of his scoring in the paint, but he also had the touch from 3, knocking down three of his four 3-point attempts, all of which came in the second quarter when the Heat started to take control of the game.

Everyone else on the Lakers was 3-for-9 from 3-point range in the first half.

LeBron took care of the ball as well. Whereas he turned the ball over five times in the first half of Game 4, he had zero in the first half of Game 5. He was locked in from the jump.

LeBron also had an incredible fourth quarter, but more on that in a minute.

6. So is Jimmy Butler

Butler was pretty good, too.

He entered the half with 22 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals. According to ESPN Stats and Info, Butler became only the second player in the play-by-play era to have 20-5-5-3 in a half of a playoff game, joining LeBron, who did it in Game 5 of the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals.

Butler had a lot more success against Davis than he did in Game 4, hitting some pull-up jumpers against him and getting loose for a few baskets as a screen-setter.

Butler capped off his scorching first half with a ridiculous 3-pointer over Kyle Kuzma to beat the shot clock.

7. The Duncan Robinson quarter

Butler and James didn't exactly cool off after halftime, but the third quarter belonged to Robinson.

Robinson scored 26 points in the game, 10 of which came in the third quarter on 3-for-4 shooting from 3-point range, one of which he got fouled on.

As I wrote heading into the series, Robinson is quite clearly the best shooter in the Finals. The Lakers were able to contain him through the first four games, but it was only a matter of time until he got going. There are few players in the league who move better off-ball - Robinson was among the league leaders in scoring off of screens and handoffs during the regular season - and he has the size at 6-foot-7 to shoot over defenders.

Just a magnificent shooter.

8. A finish for the ages

It was only fitting that this came down to LeBron and Butler going head-to-head.

With 2:52 to go in the fourth quarter, LeBron tied the game up at 101 with a pair of free throws. A couple of possessions later, Butler gave the Heat a two-point lead with a pull-up jumper over Davis.

On the ensuing possession, LeBron made a layup that he got fouled on, giving the Lakers a one-point lead.

Butler responded with a turnaround jumper to put the Heat back up by one ... only for LeBron to rebound his own miss and score a layup to put the Lakers back up by one ... only for Butler to draw a shooting foul and make a pair of free throws to give the Heat a one-point lead.

So how did it end? Following a putback by Davis, Butler made two more free throws to put the Heat up by one. The Lakers had one more chance to win the game, but Danny Green missed a wide open 3-pointer and Markieff Morris committed a costly turnover.

You know what that means - we have ourselves a Game 6 to look forward to.

Butler ended up scoring eight points in the fourth quarter. As for James, he scored 12 points while also pulling down seven rebounds.

Superstars doing what superstars do.

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