Jimmy Butler gets triple-double, Heat pull away late to top Spurs 116-104
MIAMI (AP) — Jimmy Butler got his first triple-double in more than two years. And as always, personal stats didn’t matter much to him.
Butler finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, Tyler Herro led the way with 24 points and the Miami Heat pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat the San Antonio Spurs 116-104 on Wednesday night.
“My focus is always to win,” Butler said.
Butler’s most recent triple-double was Jan. 29, 2022, but he keyed a late surge that turned a one-point game entering the fourth into a 19-point Heat lead. Bam Adebayo added 20 points for Miami.
Tre Jones and Devin Vassell each scored 19 points and Victor Wembanyana finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds for the Spurs. San Antonio started its day with a shootaround practice at a Miami Beach school, surprising the boys and girls varsity teams there by letting them watch the last few minutes.
“Any time we can make some kids happy by letting them see practices, it costs us nothing, it makes their day or their week or their month,” Wembanyama said. “Small gestures like that, it’s always fun for them, especially also for us.”
Wembanyama got his 25th double-double of the season, by far the most among this season’s rookie class — Oklahoma City’s Chet Holmgren has 13 for No. 2 on the list — and the most by a first-year player since Deandre Ayton had 39 and Trae Young had 30 in the 2018-19 campaign.
It was close for the first three quarters, neither team leading by more than eight points at any time in the game’s first 36 minutes. Each of the first three quarters wound up being decided by a single point — Miami won the first 32-31 and the second 21-20, San Antonio won the third 26-25.
But in the fourth, the Heat quickly opened some breathing room. Butler found Adebayo with a fast-break lob for a dunk and the night’s first double-digit lead at 89-79, part of a 14-4 Miami run to open the final quarter.
“Their culture, it’s inspiring,” Wembanyama said. “The fact we could hold them for more than three quarters, it also shows some progress from our side.”
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, along with a slew of Miami assistants and players such as Adebayo and former San Antonio guard Josh Richardson, exchanged plenty of postgame pleasantries.
“Spo’s fantastic,” Popovich said. “Bam’s fantastic. … To see those guys after the game and wish them well, it’s a thrill.”
It was the first of nine consecutive road games for the Spurs — the annual rodeo trip that awaits San Antonio around this time every year. The 75th annual San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo formally starts Thursday and runs through Feb. 25 at the arena that the Spurs call home.
The team will go nearly four weeks without a home game, though the All-Star break essentially turns a marathon trip into a pair of much more manageable road swings. The game in Miami started a five-game trip that runs through Feb. 14 in Dallas, and after the break, the Spurs resume play at Sacramento on Feb. 22 to begin a four-game road run.
“It’s not actually too bad,” Jones said. “But the whole month on the road is definitely a little bit of a struggle.”
Spurs: Visit Orlando on Thursday night.
Heat: Host Boston on Sunday afternoon.
AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba
Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.