Jan. 11 (UPI) — Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat beat the Oklahoma City Thunder by one point and set free multiple throw records by making all 40 of their attempts on what coach Erik Spoelstra called a “normal Tuesday” in Miami.
The perfect effort came in a 112-111 triumph over the Thunder on Tuesday at FTX Arena.
“It’s just a normal Tuesday night with the Miami Heat,” Spoelstra told reporters. “I think this is when we feel most alive, when everything just happens and when all of our competitive juices get out there. That’s the team we all can relate to.
“That’s the team I like, for better or worse. I love the passion. We had to really gut it out.”
The Heat beat the previous record mark of 39 of 39 from the free throw line, which was set in 1982 by the Utah Jazz.
Butler scored a game-high 35 points. He made 23 of 23 of his attempts from the free throw line, tying Dominique Wilkins for the second-most made free throws without a miss in NBA history and set a new Heat franchise mark.
Spoelstra said he “didn’t realize” the Heat didn’t miss a free throw. The Heat are tied with the Boston Celtics with an NBA-best 82.6% clip this season from the free throw line. They’ve made 776 of 939 of their total attempts from the line in 2022-23.
The Heat led 31-26 through the first 12 minutes. They made just 1 of 7 3 point attempts, but went 8 of 8 from the free throw line in the first quarter.
Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 15 points in the second, but the Heat pushed their advantage to 63-56 at halftime. The Thunder outscored the Heat 32-26 in the third quarter, but still trailed 89-88 to start the fourth. The Thunder started the final frame with a 8-2 run to take a 5-point edge.
The Heat punched back with an 11-2 run to take the lead back, but the Thunder stuck around down the stretch. The Heat trailed 111-106 with 1:28 remaining, but scored the final six points of the game to secure the victory. Butler made a layup and a free throw with just 12.9 seconds remaining for the final points of the night.
The Heat (22-20) will host the Milwaukee Bucks (26-14) at 7:30 p.m. EST Thursday at FTX Arena.
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