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heat 120, celtics 116 (ot)

Jaylen Brown forces overtime with improbable 3-pointer, but Celtics’ five-game win streak ends with loss to Heat

Jimmy Butler (22) returned from a seven-game absence to score 25 points for the Heat.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

For a moment, it appeared that perhaps this charmed Celtics season would roll on with another statement win and wash away an otherwise imperfect night. With Boston staring at a home loss against the Heat on Friday, Jaylen Brown caught an inbounds pass near the sideline and heaved up a 35-footer that banked in off the glass with 1.6 seconds left, forcing overtime.

The TD Garden crowd went bananas. The Heat were stunned. The momentum shift appeared obvious.

But the Celtics’ flaws prior to that big moment were too glaring. An offense that has soared this season was discombobulated for most of the game. The Heat had some say in that, of course. And they also had Jimmy Butler, who returned after missing seven games because of knee soreness.


After having his first potential game-clincher wiped away by Brown’s big shot, Butler drilled another late in overtime to ultimately send the Heat to a 120-116 victory and snap Boston’s five-game winning streak.

“Our offense beat us tonight,” Celtics forward Grant Williams said. “Our offense has saved us in a lot of games this season.”

Jayson Tatum has generally been at the front of the onslaught. But on the heels of his 49-point eruption on Wednesday and being named conference player of the month on Thursday, the Celtics forward struggled through his worst game of this season.

He was 5 for 18 from the field and 0 for 7 from the 3-point line, and finished with 14 points and five of Boston’s 20 turnovers. As Tatum sat quietly at his locker after the game with his legs wrapped in ice, assistant coach Ben Sullivan walked over and reminded Tatum that there are 82 games in this long, grueling season, and Tatum responded that they were actually just about 60 left.

“We’ve got to continue to find a way,” Celtics guard Marcus Smart said, “especially when those shots aren’t falling, especially when JT doesn’t have the best game like he usually has. It was an off game for him.”


Brown had 37 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Celtics, but there were too many quiet nights and missed opportunities elsewhere.

Three of Boston’s five losses have come in overtime. That could be a source of optimism, because it shows that the team trailed at the end of regulation just twice in 23 games, or it could be an indicator that it needs to work on its finishing kick.

“At the end of the day,” coach Joe Mazzulla said, “we have to learn how to manage the game against great teams.”

Bam Adebayo had 28 points for Miami, which shot poorly from the 3-point line (31.4 percent) and foul line (72.2), but won because of the general ruggedness that has defined its franchise.

In addition to forcing many of those turnovers with its pesky defense, the Heat scored 54 points in the paint and 22 second-chance points. And the return of Butler, who is as rugged as they come, certainly helped on all of those fronts. He had 25 points and 15 rebounds and drilled two critical shots.

The first, a whirling, swirling fadeaway 20-footer with 5.6 seconds left in regulation, nearly put the finishing touches on the win before Brown’s heroics gave the Celtics another chance. The second, a challenging 17-footer over Al Horford with 9.4 seconds remaining in overtime that made it 120-116, was the clincher.


It has been a disappointing start for the Heat (11-12), who have been slowed by injuries one season after falling to the Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. But they have plenty of time.

“We never lost confidence in the group, in ourselves,” Butler said. “We know what we’re capable of.”

The Celtics pushed ahead by as many as 13 points in the third quarter using a somewhat methodical 17-2 run. And a Sam Hauser layup with 9:31 left in the fourth later gave the Celtics a 91-83 lead.

But then their turnover issues became more damaging. Boston committed three during a two-minute stretch, as the Heat went on a rapid 13-0 run that was capped by a Tyler Herro dunk following a steal.

The Heat maintained a small lead for much of the fourth, and Butler’s tough turnaround 20-footer with 5.1 seconds left put them ahead by 3.

Miami defended the ensuing sideline inbounds pass well, and the Celtics wanted to get a shot up quickly, partly to avoid Miami committing a foul on the floor, and partly to have a chance for an offensive rebound. Brown seemingly had nowhere to go when he received the ball about 10 feet behind the 3-point line.

“When I caught it in my hand, it felt good coming off, so I let it fly,”

The ball ricocheted off the glass and in, forcing overtime.


Neither team led by more than 2 points during the first four minutes of the extra session, with the Celtics’ offense sometimes getting bogged down hunting mismatches against Herro. Adebayo gave the Heat a 118-116 lead with a pair of free throws with 40 seconds left. Tatum was seeking a two-for-one opportunity when he pulled up for a 3-pointer, but it was off, his seventh long-range miss in a row. And Butler took care of the rest.

“They test you,” Mazzulla said of the Heat. “They test your discipline.”

Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at Follow him @adamhimmelsbach.