JIMMY Butler made two free throws with no time remaining on the clock Wednesday night, capping a wild finish that featured two controversial calls by the referees and giving the fifth-seeded Miami Heat a second straight win over the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks, 116-114 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at the Walt Disney World Complex near Orlando.
After posting a 115-104 win in Game 1, the Heat appeared to be in command with a 113-107 advantage with less than 20 seconds to go.
Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo then threw down a dunk, and Brook Lopez stole Butler’s inbounds pass, converting a layup that trimmed the gap to two with 8.5 seconds left.
After Butler made just one of two free throws for a 114-111 lead with 7.7 seconds left, Goran Dragic was called for a debated brush foul on a Khris Middleton 3-point attempt. When Middleton made all three of his foul shots, the game shockingly was tied with 4.3 seconds remaining.
That was enough time for Butler to benefit from a similar touch foul at the other end on a corner jumper he got off just before the horn. Antetokounmpo was whistled for putting a hand on Butler’s hip during the follow through, setting up the game-winning free throws.
In the other game, James Harden capped a miserable shooting performance with a timely defensive play, and the Houston Rockets held on for a 104-102 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 7 of this Western Conference first-round playoff series.
Harden closed out on Thunder guard Luguentz Dort and recorded a blocked shot with 4.8 seconds left and Houston clinging to a one-point lead. Following a Robert Covington free throw, the Rockets blew up an inbounds play from the Thunder with 1.1 seconds left to clinch the series and set a date opposite the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Game 1 of that series is set for Friday (Saturday in Manila) in the AdventHealth Arena.