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Second Overtime: Butler ruins LeBron's party plans


PhilBoxing.com





CHICAGO --- The champagne was ready, cold and eager, and begging to be uncorked.

The Larry O'Brien trophy was in the building, awaiting the warm embrace of those mighty Lakers, who have waited a decade for what would be the 17th championship in franchise history.

It was dubbed as Game 5 of the 2020 NBA Finals but with their superior strength in size and talent, it seemed like coronation night for LeBron James and his purple-and-gold minions.

But Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat had other plans.

Given up for dead by the pundits after falling off the cliff of a 3-1 series deficit, the Heat clawed back to contention with a bold and intrepid 111-108 Game 5 triumph yesterday.

So instead of flying back home to L.A. on their fancy jet with a shiny hardware being joyously passed around in the cabin, these Lakers were forced to retreat back inside the NBA bubble and prepare for a taxing Game 6 against a stubborn, resurgent foe.

Jimmy Butler, a five-time All-Star often misunderstood for his caustic, demanding ways, balled with impunity and was the main reason why the Lakers are in such a sad, altered state.

Playing all but one minute of the 48-minute thriller, Butler served his second triple-double of the series, this time a 35-point, 12-rebound and 11-assist masterpiece.

"We got two more to get," he said after an exhausting effort on both ends of the floor.

UH, OH.

Looks like the Butler has more to offer from the all-around menu. And the Lakers have real cause for concern.

"His will to win is remarkable," an awestruck Heat coach Erik Speolstra told the The Miami Herald following Butler's exploits. "To do that in 47-plus minutes and take the challenge on the other end," was the difference-maker, Spo added.

But it's not just Butler that L.A. needs to worry about.

Duncan Robinson has finally found his stroke and he used it to swish six threes in Game 5. Kendrick Nunn made off with 14 off the bench while starters Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro and Jae Crowder rang in a combined 36 points.

Even in defeat, the Lakers controlled the boards, 41-36, dominated the paint scoring, 42-32, and ran away with the fastbreak wars, 25-4.

They will look to duplicate that in Game 6.

But LeBron James and Anthony Davis need help. Both stars combined for 68 points, 25 rebounds and 10 assists in Game 5 and it wasn't enough.

All of a sudden, with the finish line within sight, the Lakers' support cast appear to be wilting under pressure.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope racked up 16 points but he clanked his last three shots in the final 3:16 of play. Kyle Kuzma went 3-of-10. Rajon Rondo missed six of seven attempts while Morris and Alex Caruso managed just 1-of-5 from the field.

Will the Heat burn again in Game 6 and force a Game 7?

Will the Lakers find a way and take home the glory?

The plot thickens.

The basketball gods heard our prayers. After a one-sided start, an air-tight hell of a championship series is unfolding in our midst.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Homer D. Sayson.


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