Heat carry 27-point edge in 4th to commanding series lead over No. 1 Bucks


Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat are a game away from the Eastern Conference finals.

And the NBA’s best regular-season team is on the brink of getting swept.

Miami’s stunning run through the NBA playoffs continued Friday night, with Butler scoring 30 points and the Heat putting together a dominant fourth-quarter rally to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 115-100 on Friday night.

The Heat outscored Milwaukee 40-13 in the fourth quarter — the biggest such final-quarter margin in NBA playoff history — to take a 3-0 series lead. No team in NBA history has ever successfully rallied from a 3-0 deficit.

“We’ve been proving people wrong all year,” Bam Adebayo said.

Adebayo had 20 points and 16 rebounds, and Jae Crowder had 17 points to help the Heat improve to 7-0 in this postseason. Brook Lopez scored 22 points for Milwaukee, which got 21 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists from Giannis Antetokounmpo — who twisted an ankle in the first quarter and appeared to labor at times.

Butler had 17 of his points in the fourth, and the Heat pulled off their biggest fourth-quarter playoff comeback ever. They were down 10 going into the fourth quarter of Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals against San Antonio, the game where Ray Allen sent it to overtime with a 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left on the way to Miami’s most recent title.

Milwaukee led 87-75 going into the final quarter, up 12 with 12 minutes to go in a game that the Bucks knew they almost certainly had to win to keep any realistic hopes of winning a championship alive.

Miami had other ideas.

Tyler Herro opened the fourth with a 3-pointer, Goran Dragic made another 3 about three minutes later to cut the deficit to four, and the Heat were off and running. Butler had the next nine Miami points as the Heat went back on top, and he set Adebayo up for a short basket with 4:20 remaining to restore a 100-99 lead.

And Butler might have delivered the dagger with a pass; he found Jae Crowder for a left-wing 3-pointer with 2:15 left to put Miami up 107-100.

Butler knew it was good — he was running the other way, his arm in the air, before Crowder’s shot even found the inside of the net. It was part of a 15-1 run that sealed the deal.

Milwaukee needed less than five minutes to go on a 21-6 run that put the Bucks up 87-73 late in the third. Lopez and George Hill combined for the first 11 points of that run.

But the fourth, all Miami.

Clippers’ Harrell wins 6th man of the year

Los Angeles Clippers forward Montrezl Harrell was named sixth man of the year on Friday, earning 58 of 100 first-place votes. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Montrezl Harrell won the NBA’s Sixth Man Award on Friday, keeping the honour for the league’s top reserve with the Los Angeles Clippers for the third straight season.

Harrell ended the two-year run of teammate Lou Williams — who finished third — and gave the Clippers four winners in the last five years. Harrell and Williams helped the Clippers have the league’s highest-scoring bench for the second straight season.

Harrell received 58 first-place votes from a panel of 100 sports writers and broadcasters, earning 397 points. Dennis Schroder of Oklahoma City was second with 35 first-place votes and 328 points, while Williams got the other seven first-place votes and 127 points.

The Clippers averaged 51.5 points from their bench, continuing to get strong play from their second unit. Before Williams’ consecutive awards, Jamal Crawford won the last of his three awards in 2016.

Harrell is a 6-foot-8 force of energy, outworking fellow big men on the boards and outracing them on fast breaks. He averaged a career-best 18.6 points in 63 games, including two starts, through March 11.

Voting took account only games through that point and none during the restart. Harrell didn’t play during that after leaving the team because of his grandmother’s death, but returned to help the Clippers into the second round of the playoffs.

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