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NBA: Miami Heat set new free throw record

Miami Heat broke a 41-year record when they sensationally made all 40 of their free throws in a 112-111 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night.

Jimmy Butler starred with a game-high 35 points as the Heat broke Utah Jazz's long-standing 39-for-39 benchmark that they racked up against Portland Trail Blazers back in 1982.

Butler plays key role

Butler's final free throw came with just 12 seconds left on the clock and proved to be the crucial moment, edging Miami to a one-point victory that leaves them 22-20 for the season and eighth in the Eastern Conference.

The 33-year-old's 23 free throws was just one short of James Harden's league record of 24, set in 2019 for the Houston Rockets, as he tied with former Atlanta Hawk Dominique Wilkins for the second-highest amount of foul shots in a game without a miss.

Afterwards, Butler admitted he didn't realise on court that the Heat had broken the record as the narrow victory on the night had been his focus instead.

The six-time NBA All-Star told reporters: "I had no idea. I'm more excited that we won this game by one point."

Butler praises team effort

Despite his impressive individual scoring, Butler was keen to pay tribute to the team's efforts, with the rest of the roster chipping in with 17 free throws in total on a memorable night.

He added: "We won. A complete team effort. I'm proud of my guys."

Miami were 111-106 down with less than a minute remaining at the FTX Arena but Victor Oladipo's three-pointer and a Butler lay-up evened it up before the 33-year-old's record-breaking final free throw secured victory.

It was a dramatic ending and came after Shai Gilgeous-Alexander's attempted three-pointer for Oklahoma City had bounced off the rim.

Oladipo more than played his part for the Heat with 19 points, while Max Strus claimed 22 on the night to also contribute to the win.

Gabe Vincent ended the night with 13 points and Jamal Cain recorded 12 for the Heat, while Gilgeous-Alexander was the Thunder's top-scorer with 26 points and Josh Giddey, who recorded the sixth triple-double of his NBA career, added 18 on a great personal night for the Australian.

Miami Heat are +160 To Win the NBA Eastern Conference Outright, while they are +3300 to win the NBA Championship Outright this season. 

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Spoelstra was also unaware of record

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra echoed Butler's comments when he said he was unaware of the record at the time, labelling their free-throw shooting exploits as "crazy".

He said: "We've been a very good free-throw shooting team all year, but that's crazy. I didn't realise we hadn't missed a free throw.

"It's just a normal Tuesday night for the Miami Heat. 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."

The win comes on the back of the Heat's tight 102-101 loss to Brooklyn Nets on Sunday, as their inconsistent season continued. Spoelstra's side have now won six of their last 10 matches, mixing other successes over Minnesota Timberwolves, LA Lakers, Utah Jazz, LA Clippers and Phoenix Suns with disappointing losses to the Lakers, the Pacers and the Nuggets.

Inconsistency and injuries

Next up for the Heat are back-to-back home games against Milwaukee Bucks on Friday and Saturday when they will hope some of their injured stars return.

Bam Adebayo, Kyle Lowry and Tyler Herro were among those who missed the clash against Thunder but are listed as day-to-day so may be back to face the Bucks, but Duncan Robinson and Caleb Martin are expected to be out for longer periods.

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