The Los Angeles Lakers are one win away from a championship in their N.B.A. finals series against the Miami Heat.
A win would give the Lakers a record-tying 17th championship, but the Heat have shown their resilience and, especially in Jimmy Butler’s case, their relentlessness in the face of daunting odds. But the Lakers’ LeBron James, who is going for his fourth ring, and Anthony Davis, who is going for his first, are motivated to end the series tonight.
The Lakers and Heat are matching 3-pointers.
San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich says that the 3-point category is the first place he always looks in an N.B.A. box score.
It’s certainly hard not to be drawn there tonight.
LeBron James is 6-for-8 from long-range in this potential closeout game for the Lakers as crunch time approaches.
The two teams have likewise shot nearly identical from deep — Miami is 12-for-26 and the Lakers are 12-for-27 — with 9:05 to play and the Heat holding a 93-85 edge.
3rd Quarter: Robinson and Crowder come through for the Heat.
The Heat were the beneficiaries of two four-point plays in the third quarter.
They needed both, too, because they can’t shake the Lakers even with Jimmy Butler surging and Duncan Robinson having contributed a welcome 20 points entering the fourth quarter.
Miami took an 88-82 lead into the final period thanks in part to the four-point plays converted by Jae Crowder and Robinson. And Butler needs just one rebound for another triple-double. He has 27 points, 10 assists and 9 rebounds to lead the Heat. LeBron James (28) and Anthony Davis (22) have combined for 50 of the Lakers’ 82 points.
Jimmy Butler is torching the Lakers.
If the 171st game staged in the N.B.A. bubble turns out to be the last game at Walt Disney World, at least it is, rather fittingly a good one.
Miami’s Jimmy Butler continues to hold his own in a one-on-one duel with the Lakers’ LeBron James. Somehow Butler is also making a run at approaching the remarkable levels he hit in the Heat’s Game 3 victory — which few expected him to repeat.
Butler had 40 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds in that triple-double Game 3 masterpiece. Butler had 22 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists by halftime this Game 5 and recorded perhaps his toughest bucket of the series with 6:41 to play in the third quarter, when he followed a missed 3-pointer by Jae Crowder with a rugged rebound basket.
The Lakers’ Dwight Howard, who scuffled with Butler along the baseline in the first quarter, was whistled for committing a flagrant 1 foul on the play; Howard’s right arm connected hard with Butler’s head as Butler made the layup.
Butler made the free throw to increase his total to 27 points. He then grabbed an offensive rebound on the ensuing possession — which Miami retained after the free throw — to set up Duncan Robinson for a 3-pointer and a 76-70 Miami lead.
Also making an impact: Jae Crowder. Every time the Lakers get on the doorstep of tying or taking the lead, the Heat punch back. Crowder just converted a 4-point play to put the Heat up 5 with 3:01 left in the third.
Only half-kidding: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for M.V.P.?
The second half began with a Mike Breen-sized bang: Miami and Los Angeles exchanged a flurry of 3-pointers. And appropriately enough, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 70. But Jimmy Butler responded with an and-one on the other end, while getting whacked on the head by Dwight Howard, whom he tangled with earlier in the game. It was ruled a flagrant 1 foul. Butler hit the free throw, then assisted on a Duncan Robinson 3 for a six-point swing, putting the Heat back up by 6.
The Heat raced out to an 11-point lead in the second quarter, but the Lakers recovered and Miami entered halftime clinging to a 60-56 lead. Jimmy Butler led Miami with 22 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists, including a 3-pointer with one second left in the half. He made all 7 of his throws, which was more than the entire Lakers team took combined.
Miami got a much-needed boost off the bench from Kendrick Nunn, who scored 11 points. The Heat only played two players off the bench, the other being Andre Iguodala.
As for the Lakers, they were led by — who else? — LeBron James, who scored 21 points on 11 shots, and was key in keeping the Heat from running away in the first half. Anthony Davis shook off his foot injury and entered halftime with 13 points and 7 rebounds.
Both teams are shooting well from the field — the Heat at 47.8 percent and the Lakers at 56.1 percent. The difference was in free throws (11-6 in favor of Miami) and in offensive rebounding, where the Heat had 6, while the Lakers just had 2.
LeBron is keeping the Lakers in the game.
James has 21 points and is 9 of 11 from the field with 2:03 left in the first half. He’s also 3 of 4 from 3-point range, while the rest of the Lakers are just 2 of 8.
For Miami, Jimmy Butler is leading with 17 points on 6 of 8 shooting from the field. Also notable: Duncan Robinson (10 points) and Kendrick Nunn (11 points).
1st Quarter: The Heat lead, and the Lakers have an injury scare.
One win away from the 17th championship in franchise history, the Lakers were immediately confronted by a scare when Anthony Davis sustained an injury to his right foot while challenging for a rebound late in the opening quarter.
Davis has a habit of getting shaken up and finding a way to play through it, which has to give the Lakers some comfort. But Davis looked to be in distress, clutching at his right foot, and that situation — more than an early 25-24 deficit — is surely the Lakers’ immediate concern.
The good news for the Lakers: As quiet as the AdventHealth Arena fell after Davis went down and then hobbled to the Lakers’ bench, he did not leave the court to go to the locker room.
Davis led the Lakers with 8 points in the opening quarter and opened the second quarter on the bench — but still with his teammates rather than seeking treatment from the team’s medical staff out of view.
The Lakers said Davis re-aggravated a heel contusion that has bothered him at various points in these playoffs, but Davis is expected to return.
In: Lakers ‘Mamba’ jerseys. Out: Goran Dragic.
The Lakers will be wearing their ‘Mamba’ jerseys, a black version with a snakeskin pattern in honor of the former franchise great Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in January.
Miami will again be without guard Goran Dragic, who tore the plantar fascia ligament in his left foot in Game 1 and has been out since. He tried to warm up before Game 4 but was not able to play. Bam Adebayo, who injured his neck in Game 1 and missed two games, was back for Game 4. He is in the starting lineup tonight.
China will air Game 5, in a shift.
China Central Television, the state-run TV network, announced Friday that it would televise an N.B.A. game for the first time since a dispute with the league began last fall after a team executive expressed support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
The move suggested a softening of tensions between the N.B.A. and China that the league estimated had cost it hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue and that elicited criticism from fans and politicians.
The change was to begin with Game 5 of the N.B.A. finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat on Friday night.
“On the morning of October 10, the channel of CCTV Sports will broadcast the fifth game of the N.B.A. finals,” the network said in a post in Chinese on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform. “Welcome everyone to watch at the time!”
What makes Jimmy Butler different?
Before the season, Marc Stein talked to Butler about his road to stardom in the N.B.A.
Butler has done a lot of changing since his arrival in the N.B.A. as the 30th overall pick of the Chicago Bulls in 2011. He blossomed into a four-time All-Star with a reputation as a hypercompetitive and demanding teammate, unafraid to also challenge coaches, team executives, whomever.
In an interview with Yahoo Sports last season, Butler acknowledged that he could rightly be described as “confrontational.” He has also described himself as “a little extra at times.”
Butler said he does what he wants, despite what people may think of him.
As he prepares to begin his new work life with the Heat, Butler is pushing back harder against those around the N.B.A. who have criticized him for how much he has changed from his early days in the league. Back then, he was known as a coach-pleaser who liked to accentuate his Texas roots by wearing cowboy boots and oversize belt buckles, and listening to country music.
“I like it,” Butler said of the knock that he has changed too much. “I am different. I’ve picked up a lot of different hobbies. I don’t want to stay the same.
“I do what makes me happy. Some people just don’t like it. Some people just don’t want people to be happy.”
LeBron has kept Mr. October busy.
This has never been the month that basketball players were meant to peak.
October is for baseball glory, and there can only be one Mr. October. By swatting three home runs on three consecutive swings in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Reggie Jackson cemented one of the most fitting, enduring nicknames in all of sports.
In 2020, of course, little proceeds as we expected. LeBron James is chasing one more win for his fourth N.B.A. championship at Walt Disney World at the same time Jackson’s beloved Yankees are scuffling with the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Divisional Series at a neutral site in San Diego.
The schedule glut across so many sports has posed an unexpected quandary for Mr. October, since Jackson is also an unabashed LeBron James fan.
“I enjoy watching him as much as I do the baseball,” Jackson said. “The basketball is winding down, so if they’re both on at the same time, I’m going to be flipping back to baseball, because I’m going to be on the basketball. You need to see this guy.”
Click here to read more, including whether Jackson thinks James is the G.O.A.T.
Numbers Game: 3
If the Los Angeles Lakers beat Miami in the finals, LeBron James and Danny Green can join John Salley and Robert Horry on the short list of players to win championships with three franchises.
James is also bidding to become the first player to win an N.B.A. finals Most Valuable Player Award with three teams.