After falling down by 15 points early on, the Los Angeles Lakers fought their way back against the Miami Heat in a rematch of the 2020 NBA Finals. The Lakers had multiple chances down the stretch to take the lead and one particular possession stood out, in which Wesley Matthews took a deep 3 and LeBron James never touched the ball.
With the Lakers down just two points and only 25 seconds remaining, the ball was inbounded to Marc Gasol, who waited as Matthews went to set a screen for James. When the two Lakers finally split it was Matthews who was wide open and Gasol gave him the ball for a great look that didn’t drop.
The Lakers ultimately fell to the Heat 96-94, and after their second straight defeat, head coach Frank Vogel was faced with questions on that possession that ended in Matthews’ missed 3-pointer.
“We’re looking to get ‘Bron open, but two guys went with ‘Bron. Wes got open and had a good luck,” Vogel explained. “Wasn’t able to knock it down, but that’s a shot we’ll take.”
Of course the Heat were more concerned with LeBron than anyone else and when that is the case, situations such as the one that occurred are created. Miami did everything they could to ensure James did not have the ball in his hands and they succeeded.
The hope is that the Lakers’ role players are ultimately able to step up in that situation, but Matthews, a 37.3% 3-point shooter this season, couldn’t get his shot to drop. He wasn’t alone, as the Lakers’ collective shooting woes persisted.
The Lakers ran the same play down the stretch for Anthony Davis against the Philadelphia 76ers and Cleveland Cavaliers. Against the Sixers it worked perfectly as Davis got an easy layup, but with James in Davis’ spot, the outcome against Miami was not the same.
Without Davis and Dennis Schroder, the Lakers have been offensively challenged and struggled mightily when anyone other than James is initiating the offense. Vogel undoubtedly would’ve preferred that the ball was in LeBron’s hands down the stretch, but when that doesn’t happen it is on the other Lakers to knock down open shots.
Dennis Schroder to miss at least two more games
As far as getting some relief to their offensive struggles, the Lakers will still have a couple more games before Schroder can potentially return.
“The only thing I can tell you is health and safety protocols, and we do have a more firm timeline that it will be a minimum of the next three games; tonight’s game and the next two. We’ll see after that,” Vogel said prior to tipoff.
The Lakers host the Washington Wizards before taking on the top team in the Western Conference in the Utah Jazz. So the team will have to figure out a way to get things together or risk a longer losing streak.
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