The Los Angeles Lakers went into Game 3 of the NBA Finals extremely confident following dominant performances in the first two contests. But they were in for a rude awakening as the Miami Heat came out with a different level of intensity in a 115-104 victory to make it a 2-1 series.
The Lakers committed 14 of their 19 turnovers in the first half and though they would recover and take leads in the second half, it was arguably their worst performance of the playoffs. One bright spot was the bench who stepped up in a major way, led by Markieff Morris and Kyle Kuzma who scored 19 points apiece and combined for nine 3-pointers.
Unfortunately those great nights came in the midst of a terrible team game and Morris is expecting the Lakers to really catch heat during their next film session.
“There’s a lot of people that are going to get their [expletive] chewed out and we’ll respond better in Game 4,” he said after the loss.
“All of us want to win at the end of the day. We all have been here for 80 days or something like that. We want to win bad. We didn’t show that tonight. We feel like Miami was the more aggressive team. We fouled a lot.
“We just couldn’t really get into Lakers basketball tonight. We’re going to watch this film and come back better in Game 4.”
In addition to the turnovers, the Lakers allowed Miami to shoot 51.2% from the field as there were numerous miscommunications and breakdowns on the defensive end. That ultimately led to the Lakers committing 22 fouls, many of which were on Jimmy Butler who lived at the free throw line, hitting 12-of-14. The Heat as a team shot 21-for-23 and Anthony Davis dealt with foul trouble all night.
Morris is one of the only Lakers who appeared to be locked in and playing with energy throughout Game 3, but in the overall scheme of things that doesn’t matter. As he said, the Lakers will have to respond better in Game 4 otherwise this series will become far closer than many thought possible.
The Lakers have responded extremely well to their previous playoff losses so as long as that remains the same, they will be right back on track.
Kuzma believes Lakers let up
Kuzma’s 19 points were the most he’s scored in the playoffs and the third-most inside the bubble. Unfortunately, the Lakers fell short of expectations in a big way and Kuzma thinks the team simply came out lax.
“Disappointed, for sure. That was our game and we let our foot off the gas,” he said. “We had a lot of mistakes offensively with the turnovers, and defensively as well. We’re disappointed.”
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