Jimmy Butler dominates overtime, drops triple-double as Heat hand Raptors their first home loss

On the last possession of regulation on Tuesday night in Toronto, Jimmy Butler controlled the ball up top and waited for the seconds to melt away to initiate the offense. As it turned out, he may have waited a bit too long, because once he really got going, there wasn't time for anything but a last-second isolation jumper. To be fair, that isn't the worst option when the ball's in Butler's hands; he's come up with clutch shots on many occasions throughout his career. This one, though, clanged off the rim. 

After 48 minutes of exciting basketball, the matchup between the Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors was going to overtime. There would be no further dramatics, however, because Butler made up for his miss at the end of the fourth by dominating the beginning of overtime to lead the Heat to a 121-110 win. The loss was the first at home all season for the Raptors.

On the first possession of overtime, the Heat won the tip, and a few seconds later had an inbounds play underneath the basket after the ball was deflected out of bounds. Butler came off multiple screens, curled to the corner and knocked down an and-one jumper over Marc Gasol. The next time down the court, Butler brought the ball up the floor, came off a screen from Bam Adebayo, and launched a bizarre, leaning 3-pointer from the top of the key. He didn't draw the foul, but it went in anyway. A few seconds later, he jumped into the passing lane, stole the ball from Pascal Siakam, and coasted in for a slam. 

In less than a minute he had eight points, and the Raptors were in big trouble. That run from Butler proved to be all the Heat needed, as they coasted the rest of the way, with Butler outscoring the Raptors by himself in the extra frame, 8-2. For the game, he finished with 22 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists for his fifth career triple-double, and his first with the Heat. 

With the win -- their third in a row -- the Heat are up to 15-5 on the season, and have moved ahead of the Raptors via tiebreaker for second place in the East. There are a number of reasons for their success, including the emergence of young players such as Adebayo and rookies Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro, elite 3-point shooting and a solid defense. But most of all they now have a true star in Butler. 

They don't win this game against the Raptors without him, and they definitely don't get off to this kind of start if he doesn't force his way to the team in the summer. He hasn't shot the ball well -- 41.6 percent from the field and 26.1 percent from 3-point range -- but he's been awesome in just about every other area. 

Through their first 20 games he's putting up 19 points, 6.0 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 2.4 steals per game, the latter two of which would be career-high numbers. Meanwhile, the team has a plus-11.5 net rating when he's on the floor, and a minus-one net rating when he sits. 

Butler isn't included among the superstars in the league, and perhaps for good reason. But he's playing that role for the Heat so far this season, and with him, they're starting to look like a real problem in the East. 

NBA Writer

Jack Maloney lives and writes in Milwaukee, where, like the Bucks, he is trying to own the future. Full Bio

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