Sept. 2 (UPI) — Jimmy Butler sank two free throws with no time left Wednesday night to give the Miami Heat a 116-114 win over the Milwaukee Bucks and a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Butler managed to rattle in the first free throw, then made the meaningless second attempt for good measure. Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo fouled Butler with about a tenth of a second remaining on a jump shot from the left corner.
“In the judgement of the officials, the foul occurred, I guess, at some point when he landed,” Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said about the controversial foul. “In the judgement of the officials, there was enough to warrant a foul. … I’d say we’re disappointed with the judgement, the decision, the timing.
“It’s a tough job. I have a lot of respect for the officials and it’s not an easy job. We have our way of seeing things and we’re going to disagree.”
With Butler’s free throws, the Heat became the first No. 5 seed in NBA history to take a 2-0 series lead over a No. 1 seed.
“I knew I was going to make one,” Butler said. “That’s all that we needed.”
The foul on Butler was preceded by another controversial call moments earlier in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter.
With the Heat holding a 114-111 lead, Goran Dragic fouled Bucks sharpshooter Khris Middleton on a 3-point shot with 4.3 seconds left. Middleton went to the line and sank all three free throws to tie the game, with overtime seeming like the most likely outcome.
Instead, Butler was awarded two game-clinching foul shots to send the Heat to their sixth consecutive win in the playoffs.
Dragic had a team-best 23 points to go with four assists and two steals. Tyler Herro had 17 points off the bench and Jae Crowder added 16.
Butler finished with 13 points, six assists, three steals and three rebounds. Bam Adebayo notched 15 points and nine boards.
Antetokounmpo recorded 29 points and 14 rebounds for the Bucks, who were down by six with 27 seconds left before tying the game. Middleton ended up with 23 points, eight assists and six rebounds.
Brook Lopez and Eric Bledsoe each scored 16 for Milwaukee, and George Hill added 14 points off the bench.
Game 3 of the best-of-seven series is set for Friday.