Heat top Celtics, move a game from NBA Finals

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September 24, 2020 4:30 AM

Tyler Herro should still be in college. He's not, but is still a student.

He carries a red spiral-bound notebook with him at all times, jotting down notes when things pop into his head. What worked, what didn't, where he thinks he can get better and how he's feeling after a game.

“It helps me get locked in, helps me focus," Herro said.

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Whatever he read Wednesday night helped him put together the game of his life — and carry the Miami Heat a win away from the NBA Finals. The 20-year-old Herro scored a Heat rookie-record 37 points and the Heat beat the Boston Celtics 112-109 on Wednesday night in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals.

“He has a great competitive humility about him," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He has a confidence. He has a fearlessness that is uncommon. But he’s humble enough to work, to be coachable, to take the mentorship from the veteran players that we have on our team, and he just continues to gain more confidence as we go."

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Jimmy Butler scored 24 points, Goran Dragic added 22 and Bam Adebayo — dealing with a bit of shoulder soreness — 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.

“I didn’t score in the first half. That’s unacceptable," Tatum said. “I know I have to play better. That’s what I tried to do."

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.

“At the end of the day, we got to find a way," Walker said. “That’s really all we can do. We can do it. It’s about pride. It’s about wanting to do it. Next game we got to come out and show that."

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."