Tyler Herro’s 37 points lifts Heat over Celtics, move a game from NBA Finals

Tyler Herro scored 37 points in the Heat's Game 4 victory over the Celtics.
Tyler Herro scored 37 points in the Heat's Game 4 victory over the Celtics. –AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — The youngest player on the floor helped the Miami Heat move a game away from the NBA Finals.

Tyler Herro — still just 20 years old — scored a Heat rookie-record 37 points, Jimmy Butler had 24 and Miami beat the Boston Celtics 112-109 on Wednesday night in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Goran Dragic added 22 and Bam Adebayo had 20 points and 12 rebounds to help the Heat take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. They can close it out Friday night in Game 5.

Jayson Tatum scored all 28 of his points in the second half for the Celtics. They erased a double-digit deficit to take a one-point lead in the fourth — then saw the Heat run away again. Jaylen Brown scored 21 points, Kemba Walker added 20, Gordon Hayward had 14 and Marcus Smart finished with 10 points and 11 assists.

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Brown’s 3-pointer with 16 seconds left cut Miami’s lead to 107-104. Herro went to the line 2.1 seconds later and coolly swished a pair, stretching the lead back to five. The Celtics got within two points twice, Butler made a free throw with 1.1 seconds remaining, and Boston — out of timeouts — never got a desperation shot off.

Herro made 14 of 21 shots from the floor, 5 for 10 from 3-point range and became just the second 20-year-old in NBA playoff history to score at least 37 points in a game. The other: Magic Johnson, who had 42 in Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals for the Los Angeles Lakers.

“I feel good about it,” Herro said. “There’s a lot of work to be done still. We’re up 3-1.”

And the Heat rookie playoff record was 27 by Dwyane Wade in 2004; it now belongs to Herro, who scored 17 points in the fourth alone.

He had five straight points in the fourth to help push what was a one-point lead back out to 91-85, his 3-pointer with 4:09 left made it 98-90 and he struck again with 56 seconds left when he took a pass from Butler for a layup and a nine-point edge.

Theis scored with 8:44 left to put Boston up 85-84, the Celtics’ first lead since 25-24 with 11:19 left in the second quarter.

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Tatum missed his first seven shots before getting a 3-pointer to fall midway through the third and cutting Miami’s lead to 60-53.

The Heat could have been up by much more at that point. Butler had a basket waved off about a minute earlier because he committed an offensive foul, and on the next Miami possession the Heat missed four shots — three from 3-point range, then another try at the rim.

It was part of what was a 3-for-17 slump by the Heat, going back to the second quarter.

And yet, they still led, because Boston’s offense wasn’t much better. The Celtics shot exactly 8-for-20 in each of the first two quarters and that, combined with 11 turnovers, helped the Heat go into the break with a 50-44 lead.

But Tatum’s first basket started what became a 6-for-7 finish to the third quarter for him, he had 16 of Boston’s 32 points in that period and the Celtics were within 77-76 going into the fourth.

TIP-INS

Celtics: Tatum’s 0-for-6 first half tied for the second-worst opening-half shooting of his career. He was 0 for 8 to begin against Dallas on Nov. 11, and 0 for 6 against Milwaukee in the first two quarters of a playoff game on April 17, 2018. … It was announced before the game that Gordon Hayward and wife Robyn are parents for a fourth time; Gordon Theodore Hayward is their first son.

Heat: Dragic made a 3-pointer with 8:51 left in the third quarter for a 58-46 lead — Miami’s first double-digit lead of the series. The biggest Heat lead in the first three games had been eight points. … Solomon Hill got first-quarter minutes for the first time in these playoffs.

LANGFORD OUT

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Nobody knows when next season will start, but the Celtics are anticipating that guard Romeo Langford may not be ready when it does. Langford had surgery this week to repair a ligament issue in his wrist. “It will probably bleed into next season, whenever that starts,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.

3-1 LEADS

This is the 12th time Miami has taken a 3-1 lead in a best-of-seven series. The Heat won each of the previous 11.

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