NBA

NBA Finals: LeBron lauds Butler following 40-point triple-double – One of the game's best competitors

By Sports Desk October 05, 2020

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James hailed Jimmy Butler after fuelling the Miami Heat's 115-104 win in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

Butler carried the load for the short-handed Heat, posting 40 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds as Miami reduced the Lakers' lead to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series at Walt Disney World Resort on Sunday.

Heat star Butler became the first player with 40-plus points and 12-plus assists in an NBA Finals game since Jerry West in 1969, per Stats Perform.

Butler also joined James (2015) and West (1969) as the only players in NBA history to record a 40-plus point triple-double in the Finals.

"I thought Jimmy was phenomenal," James, who led the underwhelming Lakers with 25 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, said afterwards. "He did everything that they needed him to do tonight and he came through big time in a big-time game.

"We'll watch film and see ways we can be better going into Game 4. But I thought he was great."

Butler and Lakers superstar James went head-to-head throughout in Orlando, Florida.

There were verbal exchanges between James and Butler, with both heard saying "you're in trouble" in the first and fourth quarters.

Asked if he enjoys playing against Butler, James replied: "Love it. Love it. One of the best competitors we have in our game. We love that opportunity.

"For me personally, I don't know how many more opportunities I'm going to have, so to be able to go against a fierce competitor like that is something I'll look back on when I'm done playing. I'll miss those moments."

The Lakers struggled from the outset, falling behind 22-9 early in the opening quarter as Anthony Davis' headlined their woes.

Davis – scoreless in the opening period – posted five turnovers and four fouls, finishing with just 15 points against the red-hot Heat, while James had eight turnovers as the Lakers tallied 19 overall.

"We know that we can't turn the ball over versus this team," three-time champion James said. "They are very active defensively. It starts with myself, being the starting point guard of the team, having five first-half turnovers, eight total for the game. Can't do that, obviously, because it gives them more possessions and doesn't allow us to set our defense.

"They are really, really good offensively, so you just can't turn the ball over against that team. I take full responsibility for that."

On Davis, James added: "He got into some foul trouble. One of the shots he made when he had four fouls, they still tried to slide underneath him and get him a fifth in the third.

"I think the foul trouble made him a little passive, because he wanted to be out on the floor but he couldn't be his aggressive self offensively and defensively. I think the fouls slowed him down a lot tonight."

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