LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Jimmy Butler loves soccer, and the final scene from Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals resembled a penalty shot in a shootout.
Only there was no goalie.
This was just a free throw, no time on the clock, nobody else from the Miami Heat or Milwaukee Bucks standing along the lane. Game tied, two chances to make one shot, the outcome completely in Butler’s hands.
“I wish I could kick it in there and say that’s how I won it,” Butler said.
Rattling home a free throw will have to suffice. Butler got the first one to bounce home, made a second one that was irrelevant, and the Heat grabbed control of their East semifinal matchup with a 116-114 win over the Bucks on Wednesday night — becoming the first No. 5 seed to take a 2-0 series lead over a No. 1 seed.
Butler was fouled by Giannis Antetokounmpo with no time remaining, the referees said, a call that was affirmed in a review after the initial whistle. The ball was out of Butler’s hands when Antetokounmpo clearly made contact.
“I’d say we’re disappointed with the judgment, the decision, the timing,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said.
It was a bizarre ending to, well, a bizarre ending.
The Heat were up by six with 27 seconds left and frittered that away, Butler giving Milwaukee two points with a most ill-advised pass — “a terrible IQ play,” he acknowledged — back toward the Bucks’ basket that turned into a layup by Brook Lopez.
That got Milwaukee within two, and Butler made one free throw with 7.7 seconds left to get the lead back to three. Khris Middleton was fouled by Goran Dragic — a call Miami argued to no avail, because the Heat unsuccessfully used their challenge on a foul of Lopez shooting a 3 in the first quarter — with 4.3 seconds left, and the All-Star made all three free throws to tie it.
Butler wound up with the ball in the deep corner, and Antetokounmpo — the reigning Defensive Player of the Year — contested.
“I feel like, personally, it was the right play,” Antetokounmpo said.
Then came the whistle, and that was that. Milwaukee couldn’t challenge the call; the Bucks used their review to overturn what would have been Antetokounmpo’s fourth foul on a charging call into Butler early in the fourth quarter.
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