MIAMI – Jimmy Butler is arguably one of the top 10 players in the NBA, and he’s a prototype endgame finisher. Hard. One-to-one informed. A versatile goalscorer who can attract defenders and find teammates. Butler has been a conscious playmaker early in games, but when it comes to winning, the Heat know where to go for buckets. Same as the Sixers, who put the ball back into Butler’s hands over and over again for the biggest playoff moments of last year. It is closer in every way.

But Monday night, it wasn’t Butler with the ball in his hands for the Heat, who were locked in a close affair with the visiting Utah Jazz. It was rookie Tyler Herro. And, man, the 19-year-old from Kentucky delivered, going game after game as the Heat outlived Utah for a 107-104 win to move up to 22-8 this season.

Herro scored nine of his 17 points in the fourth quarter, including a dynamic 3-point and three back-to-back intermediate touchouts – runners or push shots if you prefer that description – that showed tight poise and touch. moments that seem to challenge a player of his age. But Herro is different. He is a portrait of confidence and calm. He probes the defense and keeps his dribbling alive, finding loopholes at his own pace and shooting at his leisure.

Herro does this to Donovan Mitchell:

“Those eight-foot plays, he made it look easy, but they’re not easy shots,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Herro’s short and middle baskets in critical time. “He has that [knack for big moments]. You have seen it time and time again. He had that in college. These are qualities that you can’t really define, you just know it when you see it. It intensifies and has more important moments when the game is in play.

“And these pieces that he was doing, what was important about these pieces was that Goran [Dragic] and Jimmy [Butler] were on the ground at the same time, and we were leading our attack through [Herro]”Spoelstra continued.” And [Dragic and Butler] felt fully confident with that because he was attacking this blanket more effectively than anyone. It says a lot when you have those seasoned All-Star veterans wanting you to make the game. “

Herro led the Miami bench unit that made the difference in the game. The Utah starters outscored Miami starters by 18, but the Heat bench beat the Utah reserves by 21. That’s your three-point victory. Herro explained how the game has slowed down for him and that while he has always been a confident player, his comfort level, especially in difficult situations, increased dramatically as his rookie season progressed.

“It was good,” Herro said of the way he clicked in the fourth. “I worked a lot. My teammates and coaches trust me with the ball in this situation.”

Herro wasn’t just doing it on the offensive side, either. He’s been playing formidable defense all night, and he’s really been doing it all season considering his age and lightness. It closes to shooters harshly and under control. He stays in front of the ball carriers and fights on the switches at the pole. In the aftermath, he stoned Mitchell as he tried to break in and ended up with a robbery, and in this next clip you can see Herro standing in front of Mitchell again and forcing him to perform a difficult and contested shot at halfway.

“He kicked my a–,” Mitchell said after the game. “Credit to him. He did his thing. He capitalized on my poor defense. And I bear the blame. It’s on me. He kicked me for three straight possessions.”

None of this is to say that Herro single-handedly won the game for Miami. It’s not even close to true. Bam Adebayo was a freak in the fourth after starting the night 2 for 10 on the pitch. Butler finished with 20 points. Dragic caused a stir with 15 points off the bench, including his own stretch of paint buckets in the second half which rushed Herro’s run. Derrick Jones Jr. was a threat on the defensive end again, and he also threw one of the nastiest dunks you’ve ever seen – over the head of back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, no less.

But in the end, it was a night for Herro ball. The kid came by. Talk to anyone in the Miami organization, and they’ll tell you it’s been that way from the second he showed up until summer practice. He doesn’t back down from anyone. His confidence is off the charts, and if you thought he was just a shooter entering or leaving the draft, you were seriously wrong. This guy is a gamer. Clear and simple.

“He knows what he’s capable of,” Butler said of Herro. “You know what he’s capable of. And I think if you don’t trust him enough, he already had a lot of him. That’s how he’s played all year since he became an NBA player. . It’s fun and of course special. I’m glad the rookie is part of our team. “