NBA: Butler, Heat pull away from Cleveland in 2nd half

Field Level Media/Reuters

Posted at Mar 12 2022 12:04 PM

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra reacts in a game against the Hawks on January 12, 2022. Erik S. Lesser, Shutterstock Out/EPA-EFE/file
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra reacts in a game against the Hawks on January 12, 2022. Erik S. Lesser, Shutterstock Out/EPA-EFE/file

Jimmy Butler, who returned after a 1-game absence caused by a sinus issue, scored 11 points during the crucial 3rd quarter, leading the host Miami Heat to a 117-105 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night.

Butler finished with 24 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals. He was the key as Miami stretched a 1-point halftime lead to 13 after 3 quarters.

Miami also got 30 points and 17 rebounds — both game highs — from Bam Adebayo and 22 points off the bench from Tyler Herro while winning for the 13th time in 16 games. Reserve Max Strus added 17 points.

Cleveland, which had its 2-game win streak snapped, was led by Darius Garland, who had 24 points and 10 assists. Rookie Evan Mobley added 19 points and 12 rebounds, and Lauri Markkanen scored 15 points. Kevin Love contributed 11 points and 8 rebounds.

Miami was without Caleb Martin, who hyperextended his left knee on Wednesday in a loss to the Phoenix Suns.

Cleveland's Caris LeVert worked out before the game and appears to be close to returning from a foot injury. However, he still missed his 8th straight game.

Miami led 28-18 after the 1st quarter, thanks to 55.6 percent shooting from the floor. Cleveland shot just 29.2 percent.

Cleveland shot much better in the second quarter -- 68.4 percent -- while cutting its deficit to 58-57 at halftime. Garland had 12 points in the quarter and Markkanen had 10 points on 4-for-4 shooting.

The Cavaliers led by two points in the final seconds of the second quarter before Strus drained a 3-pointer. Herro led all first-half scorers with 16 points, including 12 in the second quarter.

In the third quarter, a 13-0 run gave the Heat a 71-63 lead that was capped by a Butler free throw with 4:56 left. Miami finished the quarter on top 85-72. Cleveland shot just 25 percent (4 of 16) during those 12 minutes.

Cleveland cut its deficit to 107-99 with 3:57 left in the fourth quarter, but Butler scored from the post to start a personal 6-0 run that put the game away.

Miami finished with a 30-10 edge on points off turnovers, as Cleveland gave the ball away 18 times to the Heat's nine.