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Butler jumper at buzzer saves the night for Heat in 118-116 escape vs. Bulls

MIAMI – Neither the early 15-point lead not the double-digit lead midway through the fourth quarter mattered, as all too often has been the case for the Miami Heat,

Sustaining has not been a specialty for Erik Spoelstra’s team.

Nor has any sort of homecourt dominance.

So there the Heat stood again Saturday night, with the final ticks determining whether a night with several positives would provide a payoff.

That’s when Jimmy Butler said enough was enough.

Converting a 20-foot jumper just before the buzzer, Butler lifted the Heat to a dramatic 118-116 victory over the Chicago Bulls at Kaseya Center.

In converting the last of his game-high 28 points, Butler made everything right for the Heat on a night Kevin Love scored a season-high 22 points, Jaime Jaquez Jr. continued his rookie tour de force with 18 points, and Duncan Robinson reserved another spot in the NBA 3-point record book.

In the end, that all was needed, with DeMar DeRonzan scoring 27, Patrick Williams 25 and Coby White 22 for the Bulls.

Five Degrees of Heat from Saturday night’s game:

1. Closing time: The Heat led 36-24 at the end of the opening period and 58-57 at halftime, after moving to a 15-point lead early in the second period.

A 23-6 run in the third period then put the Heat up 91-80 going into the fourth.

But in this nothing-is-easy season, 10 points from White at the start of the fourth quarter got Chicago within 100-87 with 8:17 to play, as Butler continued his rest at the top of the period.

Butler returned with 7:35 to play and the Heat up 102-99, with the Bulls then tying it at 104-104 and 108-108.

A DeRozan 3-point play later put Chicago up 111-108 with 3:33 remaining, with a Jaquez dunk with 1:43 to play tying it, and then a Kyle Lowry transition basket tying it 116-116 with 31 seconds left.

And then Butler’s jumper.

And it was over.

2. Closer to whole: With Haywood Highsmith and Josh Richardson back from absences, the Heat moved closer to whole, with the hope of returns in coming days from Herro (ankle) and Adebayo (hip).

Even with Highsmith back, Spoelstra stayed with Caleb Martin as his starting power forward. Highsmith largely was a non-factor until scoring on a running floater with 7:35 remaining, his lone points of the night.

Richardson played as backup point guard, after RJ Hampton was forced into that role Thursday night. Hampton this time was inactive.

3. Better start: After being outscored by the Bulls 33-8 at the outset Thursday night, the Heat this time forced an early Chicago timeout with an 11-3 start. Butler helped set that tone by scoring eight of the Heat’s first 11.

After the Bulls committed five turnovers in their Thursday victory, the Heat this time forced six by Chicago in the first 9:53.

In all, 30 of the Heat’s 36 first-quarter points came either in the paint or on 3-pointers.

4. Feeling the Love: Love went 4 for 4 on 3-pointers for his 12 first-quarter points.

He then moved to 5 for 5 on the first possession of the second period, leading to a Bulls timeout 13 seconds into the quarter. Love’s fifth 3-pointer gave him a season high.

Love’s second 3-pointer was the 1,600th of his career, with his 16th point giving him 15,000 for his career.

Love’s sixth 3-pointer put the Heat up 91-78 late in the third period, giving him his high for a game while a member of the Heat.

5. Milestone night: Duncan Robinson’s third 3-pointer, late in the third period, gave him 900 for his career, in his 304th career game.

That makes him the NBA’s fastest player to 900 in terms of games, after he also was the fastest to 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700 and 800.

The previous fewest games to 900 3-pointers was 324 by both Luka Doncic and Buddy Hield.

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