MIAMI -- Jimmy Butler as needed.
Whether it is because the Miami Heat's prized offseason acquisition is a reluctant hero or simply a perfectionist, the upshot in Tuesday night's victory over the Detroit Pistons at AmericanAirlines Arena was Butler as needed, when needed.
He played his 38 minutes, 57 seconds without a turnover, but when needed to stem a late Detroit rally, he scored 11 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter.
"He choreographed every action and really took control of the game in the fourth quarter," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, with the Heat now turning their attention to Thursday's 6 p.m. game in Cleveland. "He reads the game and plays the right way, even when there is stress, pressure, tough possessions and momentum shifts. It's a great luxury that we certainly don't take for granted to be able to put the ball in someone's hands and know he's going to get something good in a possession.
"I think it's really telling when he comes down the stretch and has 13 assists and he was making the right play one after another after another, even if we missed shots and that speaks a lot about his mental stability."
As it did to his efficiency.
Butler's 13 assists were one shy of his career high. He had 14 assists with the Chicago Bulls on the road against the Minnesota Timberwolves on March 26, 2017, the most assists he has had in a game without a turnover in his career.
"I don't look at it, but I know whenever I turn the ball over," he said. "A lot of my turnovers are probably like bad passes. I think I got saved a couple times (Tuesday) because I threw a bad pass but my teammates just happened to catch it. I like some turnovers because that just means you are trying to get the ball to the right guy. I don't really pay attention to it that much.
"I try to not turn the ball over at all. We try to limit ourselves to whatever number (Spoelstra) writes on this board. I do have the ball plenty, so if I am careless with the ball it is just going to trickle down. I try to do everything the right way and lead by example."
Butler became the fourth player in franchise history with at least 13 assists and no turnovers. Tim Hardaway did it twice, each time with 13 assists, on March 27, 1996 vs. the Los Angeles Lakers and Dec. 20, 1997 vs. the Atlanta Hawks; Dwyane Wade had 13 assists and no turnovers on Feb. 4, 2009 at Detroit; and Jason Williams had 14 assists and no turnovers on the road against the Memphis Grizzlies on Dec. 2, 2006.
"We've built up a locker room this season where we trust each other to make the right play," center Bam Adebayo said. "Jimmy was making the right plays. It's not all about one guy on this team."
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