MIAMI (AFP) — Jimmy Butler led a record-breaking shooting display from the free-throw line as the Miami Heat edged past the Oklahoma City Thunder, 112-111, on Tuesday.
Miami talisman Butler finished with a perfect 23-of-23 free throws — including a clutch game-winner with just under 13 seconds remaining — in a nail-biting victory at the FTX Arena.
Butler’s haul was part of a remarkable 40-for-40 free throws made by Miami, breaking the old record of 39-for-39 made by Utah against Portland in 1982.
Butler said afterwards he had been oblivious to Miami’s record-breaking night from the foul line.
“I had no idea,” Butler told reporters.
“I’m more excited that we won this game by one point.”
Miami coach Erik Spoelstra was also unaware of his team’s free-throw record.
“I didn’t realize we hadn’t missed a free throw,” Spoelstra said.
“We’ve been a very good free-throw shooting team all year, but that’s crazy.”
Miami trailed, 111-106, with less than a minute remaining but fought back with a Victor Oladipo three-pointer and a Butler layup to tie the game.
Butler’s 23rd free throw of the night edged Miami into a one-point lead with just under 13 seconds remaining before Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s attempted three-pointer to win it for Oklahoma City bounced off the rim.
“We had to make some plays and we did,” Spoelstra said of his team’s last-minute rally.
Miami improved to 22-20 while the Thunder fell to 18-23.
Elsewhere, there were contrasting fortunes for Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid and Golden State’s Stephen Curry as they returned from injury.
Sixers ace Embiid had missed three straight games with a minor foot injury heading into Tuesday’s Eastern Conference clash against lowly Detroit.
But the two-time Most Valuable Player runner-up looked back to his dominant self with 36 points in just 23 minutes on court as Philadelphia romped to a 147-116 victory at the Wells Fargo Center.
Embiid’s points tally came from 12-of-20 shooting, while the Sixers big man also chipped in with 11 rebounds and two blocks.
James Harden and Tyrese Maxey added 16 points each while Tobias Harris had 14 points as Philadelphia led from start to finish to improve to 25-15.
Harden’s points tally was part of a second straight triple double. The 10-time All-Star added 12 rebounds and 15 assists.