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RECAP: Heat hold off Kings in Jimmy Butler’s return

Jan 30, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) looks to pass as Sacramento Kings guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) defends on the play in the fourth quarter at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Butler, returning from a 10-game COVID-19-protocol absence, scored 20 of his game-high-tying 30 points in the first half as the host Miami Heat defeated the Sacramento Kings 105-104 on Saturday night.

Sacramento had its three-game winning streak snapped despite a productive night from De’Aaron Fox, who had 17 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter. He also had a team-high six assists.

Bam Adebayo had 18 points and a game-high 13 rebounds for the Heat, who snapped a five-game losing streak, which had been the longest active skid in the NBA.

Butler, who passed 10,000 career points early in the game, had a game-high eight assists, seven rebounds and no turnovers in 33 minutes. He got to the foul line often, making 14-of-16 free throws, and his scoring output was his season high.

Sacramento’s Buddy Hield had 18 points but just three in the second half.

Hassan Whiteside, a former Heat star, had nine points, three rebounds and two blocks for Sacramento, shooting 4-for-4 from the floor.

Miami owned just two leads in the first half — at 1-0 and then at 57-56 with 5.5 seconds left before the break. But Kings rookie Tyrese Haliburton then raced up court and hit a rainbow, fade-away 3-pointer to give Sacramento a 59-57 halftime lead.

Sacramento, which led by as many as 11 points in the first half, shot 52.4 percent in the opening 24 minutes, including 12-for-21 on 3-pointers (57.1 percent). Hield had 15 points on 5-for-7 3-point shooting.

The third quarter belonged to Miami as the Heat took an 84-77 lead.

Miami stretched its lead to 91-80 with 10:33 left in the fourth, but Sacramento got back in the game with a 10-0 run.

In the final two minutes, Hield stole the ball from Adebayo and made a 3-pointer, giving Sacramento a 104-103 lead.

After empty possessions by both teams – including a missed 3-pointer by the red-hot Fox – Butler scored on a bank shot in the lane with 42 seconds left. That proved to be the game-winning basket as Sacramento missed its final four shots.

–Field Level Media