MIAMI (AP) -- For a three-quarter stretch Friday night, the Miami Heat didn't resemble a team that probably is headed for a last-place finish in the Atlantic Division and a second straight trip to the draft lottery.
Miami's long, bleak season took a respite in the final 36
minutes against the Timberwolves, as the Heat started making
fast-break baskets and open 3-pointers to pull away.
"We had eight or nine turnovers in the first quarter, and then
it all started to come together,'' Heat coach Pat Riley said.
Butler led seven Heat players in double figures. Eddie House
finished with 18 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter. Miami
also shot a season-best 62 percent.
"Offensively, I was rolling,'' Butler said. "I knocked down shots -- that's the role I want, to be the energizer of the team.''
Kevin Garnett led the Timberwolves with 17 points and nine
The victory snapped a three-game Miami losing streak, including
a 108-91 loss at Minnesota on Tuesday.
"It was a little redemption,'' Butler said. "That was a crazy game up there in Minnesota. We didn't match their energy.''
The Heat got a jolt when Garnett's basket gave the Timberwolves
a 37-19 lead in the first possession of the second quarter.
Led by Butler and reserve guard Mike James, the Heat began to
cut away at the deficit. Miami finished the first half with a 29-12
run. James scored nine points during the spurt.
"I just wanted to come out and bring energy,'' said James, who
finished with 15 points.
Riley also used a small backcourt, rotating guards James, House
and Anthony Carter. The lineup, and occasional use of a zone
defense, frustrated the Timberwolves.
"We had 12 assists in the first quarter and one assist in the
second quarter,'' Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. "That means
you're not moving the ball, not sharing the ball, not doing the
things you're supposed to do.''
Miami didn't let up from its strong second quarter and built an
11-point lead by the end of the third.
"We're a man-to-man team, but we changed the game a bit,''
James said. "Sometimes when you do that, you catch the other team
The Heat continued to increase their lead throughout the fourth
quarter. In one fourth-quarter stretch, Butler made three
consecutive layups and House connected on two 3-pointers.
"The zone just created fast break after fast break,'' Riley
said. "It was a great win for us.''
Butler's 35 points was the second-highest total by a Heat
rookie. Sherman Douglas scored 37 in 1990. ... Butler made a
career-best 15 field goals. ... Garnett broke his Timberwolves'
single-season team record of 981 rebounds, with his eighth of the
game early in the third period.
Backup point guard Matthew Dellavedova received a qualifying offer from the Cavaliers on Thursday, making him a restricted free agent.
The National Basketball Players' Association Players Awards will not be revealed in a television show this offseason, the union told The Undefeated.
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