Heat force Game 6, top Lakers to stave off elimination

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Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James pulls rebound away from Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler during the second half in Game 5 of basketball's NBA Finals Friday, Oct. 9, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

(AP) – Jimmy Butler was slumped over a video board behind the baseline in the final seconds, exhausted, gasping for air.

He gave it all.

The Miami Heat needed nothing less.

The NBA Finals — and Miami's title chances — are not over, not after Butler and the Heat pulled off a virtuoso performance in Game 5 on Friday night. Butler had 35 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists, and the Heat held off Los Angeles 111-108 to cut the Lakers’ lead in the title series to 3-2.

“That’s Jimmy Butler," Heat center Bam Adebayo said. “That’s our max player and that’s who we go to in these moments."

With good reason. He didn't let them down, not even on a night where LeBron James — seeking a fourth title and the player with the best closeout-game record in NBA history — was masterful.

James had 40 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists for the Lakers. But on the possession that decided everything Friday night, the Heat forced the ball out of James' hands by basically sending three defenders at him as he drove down the right side of the lane, the Heat up by one, the Lakers only needing one basket for a title.

He found Green alone atop the key; Green's shot was well short and the Heat closed it out with a pair of free throws.