In an NBA Finals rematch between teams that were both shorthanded, the Los Angeles Lakers were unable to complete a comeback and lost to the Miami Heat, 96-94.
LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma got the Lakers off to a good start offensively as they combined for the team’s first 10 points, but they had issues keeping the Heat out of the paint. Los Angeles’ offense then devolved into isolations, while Miami moved the ball well and took a 21-12 lead in the process.
The Lakers looked like they were going to get back on track after a Montrezl Harrell layup, but Kendrick Nunn drained back-to-back 3-pointers to extend the Heat lead to 12. Los Angeles struggled to score against the Miami zone and they went into the second trailing 36-23.
James took it upon himself to jumpstart the Lakers as he looked to score nearly every time down, cutting the Heat lead to seven. However, Bam Adebayo was able to take advantage of his size and finish over the smaller L.A. frontcourt.
With James off the floor, the Lakers turned to Kuzma and Harrell in the half court but defensively they were unable to string together enough stops to make a dent in the deficit. L.A. was able to hit a couple of threes in the final minute and they went into the half down 59-52.
Wesley Matthews finally got going, hitting his first 3 of the night then followed it up with a roll to the rim to get the Lakers within two. Matthews later gave them their first lead since the opening minutes by knocking down another 3-pointer from the wing.
James was unable to earn foul calls on multiple drives to the rim that were part of a 13-0 Miami run, putting Los Angeles down double-digits. However, the Lakers finished the third strong and walked into the fourth only down 79-75.
The Heat were able to go back up by 10 after Nunn and Duncan Robinson hit from deep, but Harrell’s energy around the basket kept the Lakers within striking distance. Defensively L.A. was able to earn a few stops, but struggled to score on the other end.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was able to keep L.A. close by knocking down a corner 3, but ultimately they fell short in the end and dropped a second consecutive game. They had a chance to tie the game as James came up with a steal but Caruso missed a game-tying jumper.
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