What free throw record did the Miami Heat break against the OKC Thunder?
With the win the Heat now move up to eigth in the Eastern Conference with a 22-20 record, but thir historic effort is likely to inspire much more in the weeks to come.
If you watched the Miami Heat’s game on Tuesday night, you got to witness a game that had everything you hope for as a sports fan. From missing starters, to internal fights to a dramatic finish and of course, a piece of NBA history. Let’s dive in.
Miami Heat break NBA free throw record
It was a moment to behold: Jimmy Butler standing at the free throw line preparing to take what would be the last one of the night. As the ball left his hands, Butler bent his knees a little and watched - as we all did - with bated breath as the ball floated toward the rim. Of course, he made it and with that the Miami Heat set a new NBA record by sinking every one of their 40 free throws on the night. Fittingly, the last wasn’t just the most important because of its historic significance, but because with 12.9 seconds on the clock it helped the Heat to stage a comeback 112-111 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
In case you’re wondering, it was the Utah Jazz who previously held the record with 39-of-39 free throws made against Portland back on December 7th, 1982. “It’s just a normal Tuesday night for the Miami Heat,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I think this is when we feel most alive, when everything just happens and when all of our competitive juices get out there. That’s the team we all can relate to. That’s the team I like.”
Dewayne Dedmon’s ejection couldn’t halt the Heat
One of the things that makes the Heat’s performance even more impressive is the fact that they were playing without six injured players, including four starters. Then, there were also some behavioral issues with backup Heat center Dewayne Dedmon getting himself ejected after what seemed to be an argument with his own teammates. Indeed, Dedmon even hit a massage gun on to the court during play from the sideline. Yet, in the face of it all a win was secured and history was made. “Credit them, first of all, for that,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. “That’s impressive.”
Jimmy Butler also put his name in the record books?
If the team’s impressive feat wasn’t enough, there was also Jimmy Butler’s individual effort. On the night, the forward scored 35 points, but 23 of those were from the line where he had 23 attempts. What’s that mean? With his perfect record from the line, Butler tied the Dominique Wilkins’ 1992 effort for second-most free throw completions, without a miss in NBA history. Regarding who sits above them, that would be James Harden who has 24 without a miss in a game for the Houston Rockets on December 3rd, 2019 and Dirk Nowitzki, who made 24 without a miss for Dallas in a playoff game against the Thunder on May 17th, 2011. “We won,” Butler said. “Complete team effort. I’m proud of my guys.”
How did the Miami Heat perform on the night?
Though Butler was in stellar form, so too was the supporting cast. Max Strus for example scored a solid 22 points, while Victor Oladipo offered up 19 of his own. As mentioned before, the Heat were without four regular starters: Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo, Kyle Lowry and Caleb Martin, which again punctuates the point that this was a very good performance. “Whatever it takes to win,” Butler said.
Interestingly, it wasn’t an easy ride. Miami entered the fourth with an 89-88 lead and Butler on the bench - he had played the entire third quarter. Needless to say, the Thunder took advantage of his absence by scoring the first six points of the final quarter to take their first lead of more than three points, when Tre Mann scored a jumper with 9:20 left to make it a 94-89 game. The Heat, however, would come surging back with a six-point possession following an Oladipo steal and the subsequent foul which sent him to the line. What followed, was a Gabe Vincent 3-pointer that he was fouled making, which meant the resulting free throw took the score to 97-96 in Miami’s favor. “We always talk about finding a way to win. ...This is a good start to that,” Butler said and quite frankly, it looks like he’s right.