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Butler’s big night helps Heat cut Lakers' Finals lead to 2-1

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Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Miami Heat's Jimmy Butler (22) shoots against Los Angeles Lakers' Kyle Kuzma (0) during the second half in Game 3 of basketball's NBA Finals, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Biggest moment of his career. Best game of his life.

Jimmy Butler is clearly not ready to go home quite yet. With a triple-double, he joined NBA Finals lore — and the short-handed Miami Heat might have made this title matchup a series after all.

Butler finished with 40 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists, and the Heat beat the Los Angeles Lakers 115-104 on Sunday night to get within 2-1 — doing so with starters Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic still unable to play because of injury.

“I tell Coach all the time, ‘’I'm ready for this,'" Butler said. “The biggest stage, whatever you ask me to do, I can do."

His coach, Erik Spoelstra, has clearly listened.

“This is what he wanted, this is what we wanted," Spoelstra said. “It’s really hard to analyze or describe Jimmy until you actually feel him between the four lines. He’s a supreme, elite competitor and we needed it."

It was the third 40-point triple-double in finals history. Butler was 14 for 20 from the field and, after the Heat surrendered a double-digit lead early in the fourth, he made sure this one wouldn’t get away.

“He's one of the best competitors we have in our game," the Lakers' LeBron James said. “Love that opportunity. For me, personally, I don't know how many more opportunities I'm going to have so to be able to go against a fierce competitor like that is something I'll look back on when I'm done playing. I'll miss those moments."