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Jimmy Butler lifts Heat over Hornets, 117-112

Butler scored 35 points on 11-of-19 shooting from the field.

Charlotte Hornets v Miami Heat Photo by Lauren Sopourn/Getty Images

The Miami Heat appeared on the brink of another monumental collapse when the Charlotte Hornets opened the fourth quarter on a 22-6 run. Jimmy Butler had kept the Hornets at bay with a masterful third quarter in which he took 11 trips to the foul line. But he took a breather to open the fourth, and Charlotte pounced.

And to be clear, this was inexcusable. The Hornets came into Thursday night’s game on a six-game losing streak and without LaMelo Ball or Gordon Hayward. Miami should’ve won this game comfortably, and the Heat built a lead that crested at 15 points a couple times. But their offense turned into a pumpkin to open the fourth.

Charlotte held a 100-96 lead before Butler made four straight baskets for the Heat — including a tough layup over Mason Plumlee — to give Miami a 104-102 lead with 36.4 seconds left in regulation. It was reminiscent of Dwyane Wade’s fourth-quarter heroics over the years.

But Dennis Smith Jr. drove to the basket to tie the game with a layup, and Butler was called for an offensive foul on Miami’s subsequent possession. Off to overtime we went.

And Butler again delivered. With 3:08 left, he made an and-one to tie the game at 109. And a minute later, Kyle Lowry connected on an 11-foot jumper to give Miami a 111-109 edge, a lead the Heat would never relinquish.

Charlotte had the ball, down 113-112, with 14.8 seconds left. But Kelly Oubre Jr. traveled, giving possession back to Miami. Gabe Vincent sunk four free throws in the final nine seconds to ice the game.

The Heat came away with a victory, which they needed. And they didn’t waste a great Butler performance — 35 points on 11-of-19 shooting from the field and 13-of-15 from the foul, 10 rebounds and eight assists. But Miami still has a lot of work to do to protect fourth-quarter leads.

Tyler Herro missed a second consecutive game, and the Heat struggled mightily from 3 in the second half. Erik Spoelstra stuck with Max Strus, who shot just 2-for-11 from 3, in crunch time. In fairness, the only other option was Duncan Robinson, who had a nice first half that saw him make a couple floaters but wasn’t on fire from 3. (Victor Oladipo’s continued absence makes the Heat bench look thin.)

After Butler’s 35, Adebayo was the Heat’s next leading scorer with 18 points on 6-of-15 shooting from the field. During one second-quarter stretch when both Butler and Lowry sat on the bench, Adebayo operated as the point center and directed some nice offense. But he missed a few point-blank shots to open the fourth, allowing Charlotte to get back in.

It shouldn’t be on Butler to do everything. He was great and deserves credit for this win, but Adebayo and Lowry need to do more. Lowry made that clutch basket in overtime, but he should score more than 10 points when Herro is out.

The Heat will again host the Hornets Saturday night.