The Los Angeles Lakers missed a golden opportunity on Friday. Yes, Danny Green missed the big shot at the end of the game, and Markieff Morris made the costly turnover when they were given a second chance at a game-winning shot, but Green and Morris didn’t lose to the Miami Heat; the Lakers did.
As a team.
That sentiment has helped the Lakers move on from the heartbreak of Game 5 and prepare for what lies ahead in Game 6. However, according to Kyle Kuzma, moving on wasn’t much of a challenge to begin with. They were happy with the chances they got; it was everything else that they were unhappy with.
“We didn’t really talk about it too much,” Kuzma said of the Lakers’ final possession of Game 5. “Because honestly, in the grand scheme of things, if you hit a shot obviously you get a win, but at the same time we kind of beat ourselves throughout the game to get to that point, and get to that certain situation in the game. So we don’t really think about it too much because obviously it was the right play.
“It was the right shot, and we just live and die with that.”
Now, the Lakers will go into Game 6 on Sunday with a chip on their shoulder — not because they felt entitled to a win in Game 5, but because they pride themselves on not losing two games in a row. They feel ready to bounce back.
“Everyone has been really on edge,” Kuzma said. “Everyone has been really focused on attention to detail and what we have to do with all coverages. Just everything little, all the little things. Everybody is locked in.”
With how talented the Lakers are — particularly on the defensive end — simply being “locked in” could get them past the Heat in Game 6, but they’ll also have to play with the same level of desperation the Heat will play with. The Lakers might only need one game to win the series, but if they let another game slip on Sunday, they Heat will be in the same boat as them on Tuesday.
Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.