The Los Angeles Lakers stepped up and defeated the Miami Heat 102-96 in Game 4 to make a statement after a disappointing loss in the NBA Finals. Miami out-willed and outperformed L.A. in Game 3, in big part due to Jimmy Butler’s 40-point triple-double.
His performance served as a major confidence booster as late in the fourth quarter Butler engaged in trash-talking with LeBron James, shouting “You’re in trouble!” toward him and the Lakers bench.
But Kyle Kuzma said the jibe did not become a talking point in the locker room. “No, not at all,” he said. “We focus on ourselves and we try to control what we control. We have to figure out what we need to do right or wrong. Trash-talk is part of the game.”
Butler explained after Game 3 he wanted to show James that despite falling behind 2-0 in the Finals, the Heat would not surrender until the series was officially over and he was simply reiterating what the three-time champion said earlier.
“I think LeBron has got the best of me way too many times,” Butler said. “I respect the guy for it, but this is a different time now, a different group of guys that I have around me, and we are here to win, we are here to compete. We’re not going to lay down, we’re going to fight back in this thing, even it up 2-2.”
Lakers stars and role players collectively put on an impressive performance in Game 4 to reclaim momentum in the Finals. Among their little victories was successfully neutralizing Butler, who finished the night with 22 points.
L.A. adjusted with James and Anthony Davis taking on the responsibility of guarding the Heat leader. As a result, after ending the first quarter 5-for-5, Butler then made just three out of the 12 shots he attempted for the remainder of the game.
James praises Caldwell-Pope for Game 4 performance
The Lakers had many heroes on Tuesday night, with Davis making a tremendous impact on both ends of the floor and securing the win with a late dagger 3-pointer. But Kentavious Caldwell-Pope particularly impressed, bouncing back from an average Game 3 performance he ended shooting just 1-of-5.
In Game 4, he helped L.A. maintain the pressure on Miami in crucial moments of the game, posing a threat from downtown and making key defensive plays. And James was full of praise for Caldwell-Pope. “Whoever is out on the floor with me, I believe can make plays, and tonight was a case in point of KCP,” he said.
“Stays ready. He works on his craft. … That three in front of their bench was a huge three, and obviously, the drive at the end of the shot clock was two big back-to-back plays in the fourth quarter, where we needed to continue to score versus this team.”
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