The Los Angeles Lakers returned to the court on Wednesday night, taking on the Miami Heat looking to sweep their Florida back-to-back.
The Heat welcomed their two stars in Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo back to the lineup while the Lakers did have LeBron James in action despite being questionable in the second of the back-to-back. Ultimately though, the Lakers ran out of gas and suffered a 112-98 defeat to fall to 14-21 on the season.
Despite 3-pointers from LeBron James and Patrick Beverley, the Lakers trailed 13-8 early as they struggled to take care of the ball, allowing the Heat to get out in transition. James quickly erased that deficit, however, with five straight points to tie it.
Turnovers continued to be an issue for the Lakers early though as Troy Brown Jr. and Austin Reaves each gave the ball away on back-to-back possessions, leading to a Heat run and a Darvin Ham timeout.
In addition to their inability to take care of the ball, the smaller Lakers also struggled on the defensive glass. After giving up 13 second-chance points in the first quarter alone, the Lakers went into the second frame trailing 33-25.
The Lakers were able to cut into their deficit early in the second quarter when Russell Westbrook and Wenyen Gabriel drilled back-to-back 3s. L.A. then finally took a page out of Miami’s book, getting out in transition with James completing a three-point play to regain the lead.
As has been the case a lot lately, the Lakers really struggled in the non-James minutes midway through the second quarter. The Heat stretched their lead to nine going into the halftime locker room at 61-52 as Butler led all scorers with 19.
The Lakers didn’t seem to fix their issues at halftime as they had two silly turnovers to start the third quarter, leading to five quick Miami points before Dennis Schroder responded with a three-point play.
L.A.’s third-quarter struggles were once again a theme of this one though as they continued to struggle taking care of the ball and Miami stretched its lead to 20. The Lakers went into the fourth quarter trailing by 17, needing a run as soon as possible to make it a game.
Brown continued his hot shooting of late with a pair of 3-pointers and then LeBron hit a layup to cut it to 12, forcing a Miami timeout.
Duncan Robinson is in the midst of a down year, but he came up big for the Heat in the third quarter with back-to-back triples, which was the only thing keeping the Lakers from taking the momentum as they cut it to 10.
In his first game back after missing the last 10 with a sprained ankle, Juan Toscano-Anderson made an impact when Ham gave him an opportunity. He helped on the glass, and when Schroder nailed a 3 the deficit was at seven with four minutes to play.
Although the Lakers played solid defense, they could never get over the hump offensively and Herro eventually drained a dagger 3 to secure the victory for the Heat.
The difference in the game were turnovers and offensive rebounds as the Lakers gave it away 25 times compared to six for the Heat. Miami had 30 points off those turnovers on addition to 10 offensive rebounds.
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