MIAMI (AP) — Jimmy Butler scored a playoff career-high 45 points, including a personal 7-0 run in the final moments, and the Miami Heat held off the Atlanta Hawks 115-105 in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference first-round series Tuesday night.
Tyler Herro scored 15 for Miami, while Max Strus scored 14 and Gabe Vincent added 11 for top-seeded Miami, which took a 2-0 lead over the eighth-seeded Hawks.
Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 19 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter for Atlanta. Trae Young scored 25 for the Hawks, while De’Andre Hunter had 16 and John Collins finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Hawks.
Butler’s previous playoff best was 40, done twice, both in the bubble when the Heat made the 2020 NBA Finals. The Heat needed all of his heroics then, and they needed them all on Tuesday as well.
Bogdanovic’s 3-pointer with 3:15 left got Atlanta within 104-101.
From there, it was all Butler.
He had a dunk, a 3-pointer and another dunk — all in the span of 56 seconds — to turn things from in doubt to locked down, putting Miami up 10 with 1:20 remaining and ensuring the Heat would finish off the win.
“Just staying aggressive,” Butler said. “Taking what the defense gives me.”
As would be expected in a playoff series, pleasantries began being exchanged with more regularity. The first half featured 16 fouls by Atlanta and 14 by Miami — a season-high for the Hawks, one off the season-high for the Heat, and those 30 personals didn’t even include a double technical that Lowry and Hunter got for getting face-to-face.
Young picked up a technical for arguing a foul against him late in the third as well, the capper to a period where the Heat went from barely ahead to holders of a double-digit lead going into the final 12 minutes. He played the entire third quarter, but managed only two shots in that span — making both — and didn’t get to the foul line, while committing five turnovers in that period alone.
And in time, Miami hit its stride.
Kevin Huerter’s stepback 3-pointer with 8:59 left in the third pulled Atlanta within 64-62. The Hawks went nearly three minutes without scoring again, and the game looked very different after those three minutes.
The Heat went 4 for 4 in that stretch — 3-pointers by Butler, P.J. Tucker and Strus, with a layup by Butler in there as well — and it added up to an 11-0 run that pushed the lead out to 75-62. The margin remained at least eight points for the next 11 minutes, before Atlanta began clawing back.
Young hit Collins with a strike for a layup, and Bogdanovic’s long jumper got Atlanta within 94-90 midway through the fourth.
But the Hawks never got the lead. Butler saw to that.
Hawks: Atlanta had three players (Hunter, Huerter and Bogdanovic) with three fouls by halftime for only the second time this season. The other was Jan. 14 — also at Miami. … Among the adjustments the Hawks tried: Collins started Game 2, and Huerter opened the game guarding Lowry.
Heat: Duncan Robinson, who made eight 3’s and scored 27 points in Game 1, went without a shot in seven minutes. … Soccer legend David Beckham was in attendance. … Going back to the end of the regular season, Miami is 8-1 in its last nine games. … Miami is now 5-1 against Atlanta this season.
Teams that take a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven matchup have eventually won the series 92.4% of the time. The Hawks have never rallied from 0-2 down in a series (0-25) and the Heat have never wasted a 2-0 lead (17-0) — but there were four such rallies in last season’s playoffs, two by the Los Angeles Clippers and two others by Milwaukee.
Atlanta now plays host to games 3 and 4. Since Jan. 17, the Hawks are an NBA-best 20-3 at home.
Game 3 is Friday in Atlanta.