After a victory against the Magic, the Los Angeles Lakers fell to the Miami Heat, 112-98, splitting their pair of games in Florida. LeBron James was listed as questionable for tonight, but mustered up enough energy to play after a long night on Tuesday, carrying the team with 27 points and 9 rebounds.
Unfortunately for L.A., James was the sole bright spot in the darkness that was Wednesday’s game. The team lost every individual quarter except the fourth and got outrebounded and outclassed while struggling to take care of the basketball (they had 26 turnovers).
In the first half, the Lakers managed to stay within reach thanks to LeBron’s play; he led the team with 15 points in the frame. Darvin Ham’s small unit lineups surprised everyone against the Magic and managed to survive the non-LeBron minutes and win them. Tonight, it was more of what Laker Nation has come to expect: A team that is too small and lacks the ability to score or defend anybody consistently. Points in the paint is a standout stat, as the Heat outscored the Lakers 32-18 in the first half with no dominant rim protector available to prevent Ban Adebayo from scoring or grabbing rebounds.
Down by nine entering the third, the Lakers folded like cheap Ikea furniture. They were outscored by 34-26 in the quarter and Miami got everyone going with all starters in double figures with Jimmy Butler leading the way. He scored just four in the third but ended the night with 27.
I hate analyzing body movement and effort because it’s only possible to know if you ask players and of course, they would never admit something so negative. Still, it was clear tonight that they were flat and uninspired in the third quarter. Miami applied pressure and Los Angeles didn’t have a response.
In the fourth, the Lakers started the quarter on a 5-0 run with James playing center in a small ball lineup consisting of Russell Westbrook, Dennis Schröder, Juan Toscano-Anderson and Troy Brown Jr. They continued to apply pressure with this group and got to within 7 with 3:59 left to play thanks to a Dennis three. Would this be the night when the infamous fake comeback turned into an actual comeback?
No, it would not.
Both teams traded missed shots for a couple of possessions to keep things tight, but then Miami got a three from Tyler Herro and a Butler bank shot to secure the win for good.
As we’ve discussed before, the Lakers have to play a near-perfect game without Anthony Davis to even beat an average team like Miami. Patrick Beverley with 6 points and Austin Reaves with 0 in 20 minutes of play are not going to cut it. The reality may be that this team just isn’t good enough to beat the Heat or any above .500 teams as constructed, but they’ll have to try and tread water until either Davis returns or a roster move is made by management to salvage what’s left of LeBron’s Year 20 campaign.