The Los Angeles Lakers suffered a tough loss in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, falling 115-104 to the Miami Heat. From its leaders to role players, L.A. disappointed and offered the injury-ravaged Miami a lifeline in the series.
The Lakers knew they were not at their best despite taking a 2-0 lead in the Finals. LeBron James and Anthony Davis reiterated L.A. still needed to improve to win the title this year. After each win, they were eager to go back and study film from the night to find solutions for their inconsistency and patchy defense.
And their nightmares materialized on Sunday night. Davis quickly fell into foul trouble and barely made a shot in the first half. Meanwhile, James turned the ball over eight times, his season-high and the most among the Lakers who collectively registered 19 turnovers in Game 3.
And even though he ended the night with 25 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, the three-time NBA champion offered a harsh assessment of his performance. “It starts with me and I take full responsibility for that,” James said of his sloppiness following the loss.
“I’ll be a lot better with the security of the ball and the turnovers and things of that nature. We as a team will be a lot better defensively with our game plan.”
After studying Game 3 footage, James said he was confident the Lakers would eliminate the shortcomings that cost them the win. “Our turnovers really killed us,” James said on Monday.
“We understand that we can’t turn the ball over versus this team. We also had some breakdowns defensively throughout the course of the game that we’re not accustomed to having. Those will be cleaned up in Game 4.
“We’re able to take a loss and understand why we lost. Understand things that we should have done better and things that we can apply to the next game to be better.”
James also said he approaches a loss in the NBA Finals similarly as he does a win, adding his attitude toward the next playoff game always remains the same. “Until the series is completed, I kind of stay on edge, stay locked in on the job at hand,” he explained.
“Obviously, no one wants to ever lose. You hate that feeling, especially when you know you didn’t play your best, and I definitely wasn’t at my best [Sunday] night from an individual standpoint.”
Butler: ‘LeBron has got the best of me way too many times’
While James was struggling in Game 3, Heat star Jimmy Butler was thriving and ended the night with a 40-point triple-double. And as he was carrying Miami to a victory, the Heat forward uttered “You’re in trouble!” toward the Lakers All-Star in the fourth quarter.
Butler explained he was telling James that despite often losing to the future Hall-of-Famer in the past and still trailing the Lakers in the Finals, the Heat are not done yet. “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.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!