MIAMI (AFP) – Miami forward Jimmy Butler vowed the Heat won’t roll over against the Los Angeles Lakers despite a second-straight double-digit defeat in the NBA Finals.
“We’re never giving up,” Butler said. “We’re going to fight and we’re going to ride with this thing til the wheels fall off.
“It’s not over,” Butler insisted. “We’re just down 0-2. We’ve got to do something special. We’re capable of it.”
But the Heat were swimming against a fierce tide on Friday after Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo – both injured in Wednesday’s Game 1 blowout loss – were ruled out of Game 2 and possibly beyond in the best-of-seven championship series.
Dragic was the Heat’s leading scorer this post-season and Adebayo was averaging double-digit points and rebounds.
But Butler said it’s not about who’s on the floor, it’s about putting in the effort as the Heat try today to avoid falling into an 0-3 hole – from which no NBA team has come back to win a best-of-seven series.
“We’ve got to play near perfect in order to beat those guys over there,” Butler said. “We have yet to do it, and if we don’t do it soon it’s not going to be pretty.”
Heat veteran Udonis Haslem delivered that message forcefully to his teammates on the sideline in the third quarter.
“Play harder. Empty the tanks,” Butler said Haslem urged them. That’s what we’re going to have to do when we’re down two stars like Bam and Goran.
“Everybody’s got to lock in, we’ve got to be three places at once.
“It’s so hard to do, but we’ve got guys that have to do it. That’s what it’s going to take to beat this team.”
Haslem’s exhortations seemed to spark the Heat, but Miami could do little to stop Anthony Davis and LeBron James, who combined to score 65 points.
The Heat trimmed 18-point deficits to single digits multiple times, but they couldn’t get the gap below nine in the final period.
Butler said a few adjustments – getting more shots up and rebounding better – can make the difference in game three.
“I like what we’ve been doing,” he said. “It’s just we’ve got to play harder, we got to rebound the basketball, we’ve got to get back, we’ve really got to lock in to what we’re supposed to be doing.
“If we do that, we can turn this thing around.”