Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat are headed to the Eastern Conference finals.
Giannis Antetokounmpo could only watch.
The fifth-seeded Heat finished off an upset of the NBA’s best regular-season team Tuesday, topping the Milwaukee Bucks 103-94 in Game 5 of their East semi-final series while Antetokounmpo, the league’s reigning MVP, couldn’t play because of a sprained right ankle.
Butler and Goran Dragic each scored 17 points for the Heat, who won the series 4-1 and will face either Boston or Toronto when the NBA’s final four gets underway next week. It’s Miami’s first time in the East finals since 2014, and the first time Butler has gotten to the NBA’s final four.
Jae Crowder scored 16, Tyler Herro scored 14, Bam Adebayo had 13 and Kelly Olynyk had 12 apiece for the Heat.
Khris Middleton had 23 points for Milwaukee, which got 15 points and 14 rebounds from Brook Lopez. Donte DiVincenzo scored 17, Wesley Matthews and Marvin Williams each had 11 and Eric Bledsoe had nine assists for the Bucks.
Antetokounmpo did what he could cheering from the bench throughout, rebounding for teammates during pregame warmups and again at halftime, offering words during time-outs.
And the Bucks were inspired from the jump.
But the NBA’s No 1 overall seed in these playoffs a league-best 56-17 in the regular season just didn’t have enough.
Milwaukee opened the game on a 28-15 run, putting Miami on its heels from the opening minutes. DiVincenzo got the call to start for Antetokounmpo and scored eight of Milwaukee’s first 16 points, Matthews had nine by the end of the quarter and the Bucks were off to a promising start.
Miami answered that start with a 30-9 run of its own, capped by three free throws from Olynyk with 4:36 left in the half for a 45-37 Heat lead.
Milwaukee wouldn’t let the Heat get away, though – not then, and not in the third when Miami pushed the lead out to 12 after a 3-pointer by Crowder with 3:07 left. The Bucks needed just 50 seconds to rip off seven straight points, and it stayed close from there.
Lakers 112, Rockers 102
LeBron James added another record to his resume as he continues his chase for a fourth career title.
Nobody has played in as many NBA playoff victories.
James scored 36 points, Rajon Rondo sparked a fourth-quarter rally and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Houston Rockets 112-102 on Tuesday night to take a 2-1 lead in their Western Conference playoff series.
The triumph gave James his NBA-record 162nd postseason victory, surpassing former Lakers guard Derek Fisher’s 161.
“It’s very humbling,” James said. “It’s something that I never dreamed of.”
James had seven rebounds, five assists and four blocks as he helped lead the Lakers’ second-half defensive surge. The Rockets had 64 points at halftime but were held to 38 the rest of the way.
“Nobody impacts winning more than LeBron James,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “That’s true for this season. That’s why he should be MVP. Honestly, it’s probably true in the history of the game. Nobody impacts winning more than LeBron James. To see him have that actual numerical statistic is just indicative of that.”
James reached the milestone with plenty of help from Rondo, who became the first player to have at least 12 points and five assists in the fourth quarter of a playoff game since James for the Cleveland Cavaliers on 22 April 2010.
Rondo finished with 21 points and nine assists. He scored eight straight points during a 10-0 run early in the period that put the Lakers ahead for good. Rondo assisted on the other basket during that stretch.
“I just took what was given,” Rondo said. “It started on the defensive end for me. Guys found me when I was open, and I took the shots with confidence. And I got some easy layups.”
Anthony Davis had 26 points and Kyle Kuzma added 14. James Harden scored 33 points and Russell Westbrook had 30 for the Rockets.
Rockets forward Robert Covington was taken to the locker room after colliding with Davis in the fourth quarter. The left side of Covington’s face hit Davis’ right arm, while Covington’s left elbow hit Davis’ right side.
Houston coach Mike D’Antoni didn’t have an update on Covington after the game.
The game featured 16 lead changes and 15 ties, with neither team pulling ahead by more than six points until the Lakers took control late.
“Too many 50-50 balls we didn’t get, too many times we just weren’t sharp,” D’Antoni said. “We just weren’t quick to the ball or quick to a play and it got away from us. They hit a lot of good hard shots. Tonight they got us. Next time, we’ll see what we can do.”
Rondo assisted on a layup by James that put the Lakers ahead with about 10 minutes remaining. Rondo then hit a three-pointer to give the Lakers an 89-85 advantage, their largest lead to that point.
After a Houston timeout, Westbrook missed a shot and Rondo sank another three. Rondo then stole the ball from Harden and made a layup to cap the 10-0 run.
“Playoff Rondo is real,” Davis said. “His intensity picks up. He wants to guard the best perimeter guy. … He’s shooting the ball very well, making the right passes. His IQ is on another level.”
LA controlled the final period for the second straight game. The Lakers blew a 21-point lead in Game 2 but outscored Houston by 10 in the fourth quarter to win 117-109.
“I just thought in the second half they played a little bit harder than we did,” D’Antoni said. “Our legs, we were a little slow off a lot of things, especially on the defensive end. We didn’t create enough turnovers to run.”