Heat rally to beat Bucks, take 3-0 series lead
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat are a game away from the Eastern Conference finals.
And the NBA’s best regular-season team is on the brink of getting swept.
Miami’s stunning run through the NBA playoffs continued Friday night, with Butler scoring 30 points and the Heat putting together a dominant fourth-quarter rally to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 115-100 on Friday night.
The Heat outscored Milwaukee 40-13 in the fourth quarter — the biggest such final-quarter margin in NBA playoff history — to take a 3-0 series lead. No team in NBA history has ever successfully rallied from a 3-0 deficit.
Bam Adebayo had 20 points and 16 rebounds, and Jae Crowder had 17 points to help the Heat improve to 7-0 in this postseason. Brook Lopez scored 22 points for Milwaukee, which got 21 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists from Giannis Antetokounmpo — who twisted an ankle in the first quarter and appeared to labor at times.
Butler had 17 of his points in the fourth, and the Heat pulled off their biggest fourth-quarter playoff comeback ever. They were down 10 going into the fourth quarter of Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals against San Antonio, the game where Ray Allen sent it to overtime with a 3-pointer on the way to Miami’s most recent title.
Milwaukee led 87-75 going into the final quarter, up 12 with 12 minutes to go in a game that the Bucks knew they almost certainly had to win to keep any realistic hopes of winning a championship alive.
Miami had other ideas.
Butler delivered the dagger with a pass; he found Jae Crowder for a left-wing 3-pointer with 2:15 left to put Miami up 107-100. Butler knew it was good -- he was running the other way, his arm in the air, before Crowder’s shot even found the inside of the net. It was part of a 15-1 run that sealed the deal.
Game 4 is Sunday.
ROCKETS 112, LAKERS 97
The Los Angeles Lakers are playing from behind again in these NBA playoffs.
James Harden scored 36 points and Houston ran away from the Lakers, the second straight round the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference lost its opener.
Russell Westbrook added 24 points, nine rebounds and six assists, and Eric Gordon had 23 points for the Rockets, the No. 4 seed who had just one day of rest after needing seven games to win their first-round series.
They sure didn’t look tired, flying around the court all night to make up for the size disadvantage they face with their small-ball style. They forced 17 turnovers that led to 27 points and played the much bigger Lakers even on the backboards.
The Lakers never led after the first quarter and the Rockets blew it open by starting the fourth with a 16-3 run, turning a six-point advantage into a 101-82 cushion on Harden’s basket with 7:15 to play.
Anthony Davis had 25 points and 14 rebounds for the Lakers. LeBron James had 20 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
Game 2 is Sunday.