Lakers bounced by Heat 113-107
LeBron headed into Miami tonight, after playing for them from 2010-2014. He had an illustrious career there, providing the city with back-to-back championships from 2011-2013. King James’s list of franchise records go on and one, showing the brilliance of what he did for that city. While he certainly has more positive than negative memories there, tonight is one he’ll likely want to forget. Jimmy Butler led the way for Miami, with 10 first-half assists. They moved the ball at a historic rate, which allowed them to shoot an impeccable first half (64% 3-pt). Miami was two assists short of tying their franchise record in a half (23). Duncan Robinson had 16 off the bench, Max Strus had a huge eight points, including a step-back three with two seconds left on the shot-clock. Miami headed into the half with a 17-point lead, and scored 69 total points. Bam had 8-6-3, and Butler was on pace for a triple-double by the end of halftime. Miami was two assists shy of tying their first half record of assists, which is 23. They picked L.A. apart on offense, with their ball movement, and the mismatches created off of that ball movement. Behind LeBron, who ignited a 12-3 run, Los Angeles showed a bit of fight in them late in the first half. LeBron had a monstrous transition dunk, followed by a tough and-one in transition as well. He was pumping his chest, egging his team on for some inspiration. However, Miami was clicking on all ends, and proved to be too much for them in the first two quarters. Jimmy Butler continued to dominate in the third, looking like the version of him we saw in the 2020 bubble. He willed Miami, putting on show-stopping plays like his euro-step and-one, or his block which demolished Russell Westbrook. Butler passed LeBron for most triple doubles all-time for Miami, with 10 of their total 40, with one tonight. LeBron made some history of his own tonight, with 17 games in a row of at least 26 points. Only Kobe, Shaq, and Elgin Baylor have had streaks longer than that. He’s number two in the league in scoring at 37 years old, and continues to be the heart and soul of this Lakers squad. Westbrook had a nice game, with 20-6-6, and they had some contributions from Malik Monk and Melo off the bench. He brought the Lakers within a ten point game, after being down by as much as 26. LeBron has been historically good, and it’s unfortunate the Lakers can’t give him enough help to win these types of games. With three minutes left, Miami found themselves in a difficult situation. Due to poor shot selection, they allowed Los Angeles to come back, as well as getting themselves in foul trouble. Bam Adebayo sent Westbrook to the line, which brought them within six points. That was Bam’s fifth foul, minimizing his defensive impact greatly. That completed a late 16-3 run for L.A., and a Westbrook layup made it a five point game. Duncan Robinson responded with his 6th three of the night, before another LeBron James and-one. A sloppy mental lapse by Los Angeles left P.J. Tucker wide open in the corner, to extend their lead to 8 points. Eventually, Los Angeles brought it within four with a minute left. With the game on the line, the refs called an extremely shocking offensive foul on Avery Bradley, giving Miami the ball. They had one shot left, and like their shot selection in the second half, it was a poor attempt. Butler had no time, and he forced a turnaround fade, giving L.A. one more chance. On an inbound play, they turned the ball over to Caleb Martin, who scored on a fast break. This increased Miami’s lead to six, with four seconds left, ultimately putting the game out of reach. It’s certainly a tough way to end a 20+ point comeback, putting in all of that work, only to lose on mental lapses, such as leaving P.J. Tucker in the corner, or their horrible inbounding in their penultimate possession. Miami ended up winning the “bubble-finals” rematch 113-107 behind Jimmy Butler’s record-breaking triple double, Bam’s 14-8-5, and Duncan’s team-high 25 points. Los Angeles has another tough Eastern Conference matchup Tuesday, against the Brooklyn Nets. Miami hosts New York this upcoming Wednesday.