The Los Angeles Lakers looked to move to .500 without LeBron James and Anthony Davis on Wednesday night, playing the Miami Heat in a Finals rematch. Although the Lakers fought hard, turnovers wound up costing them, and they ultimately fell, 110-104.
The Lakers defense has been their saving grace in the absence of their superstars. However, it didn’t appear that way in the early goings against the Heat. They ran out of fouls before the first timeout of the game and the Heat led 19-10 with 7:29 to go in the first quarter.
Andre Drummond and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope were the aggressors early for the Lakers, combining to score 13 of their first 19 points. By the 5:07 mark, L.A. had cut the deficit to two, prompting a Heat timeout.
The story of the opening quarter was the free throw disparity, as the Lakers struggled to play disciplined defense. The Heat shot 18 free throws in the first 12 minutes compared to just one for the Lakers, but the gap was narrow regardless, as L.A. trailed 32-27.
The second quarter began with a less than ideal start for L.A. They stopped fouling, but they allowed the Heat to score any way they wanted. With 7:57 left in the half, the Heat extended their lead to make it 42-33. Dennis Schroder was off to a particularly bad start, shooting 0-for-5 and was a game low minus-11 at the time.
Markieff Morris and Caldwell-Pope were not going to let the Lakers fall behind though, as they scored seven straight to get the Heat lead to just five. Caldwell-Pope had 13 points in his first 13 minutes of play.
The Lakers grabbed their first lead of the game courtesy of three free throws by Ben McLemore in his purple and gold debut. With 3:08 to go in the second quarter, L.A. led 53-50 with Caldwell-Pope and Wesley Matthews leading the way for them on the scoreboard.
Despite an over three-minute scoring drought near the end of the half, the Lakers outhustled the Heat on their way to leading at the break, 56-54. Notably absent from the first 24 minutes was Marc Gasol, who did not see the floor at all.
The Lakers got off to an ugly start offensively in the second half, turning the ball over five times in the first five minutes. What was a two-point lead became a six-point deficit as it was 68-62 with 6:27 to go in the third.
L.A. was able to claw their way back into the game, but turnovers continued to haunt them. An offensive foul on Montrezl Harrell led to a potential four-point play from Duncan Robinson before a timeout. At the 2:46 mark, the Heat led 79-72.
The Lakers continued to fight back after trailing by eight, going on an 8-0 run to tie the game. A late quarter three by the Heat put them on top 83-80 going into the fourth and final quarter.
Once again, L.A. found themselves in a hole at the beginning of a quarter. The Heat took control thanks to Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro and held a 90-82 lead with 10:00 to go.
The Lakers would simply not go away, making life very difficult for the Heat as they closed the gap to just three points with 6:10 left in the game.
The Heat tried to keep their distance, as a pair of buckets from Butler and Herro put them up seven over the Lakers as the game entered the final stretch. As L.A. attempted to make one final push, Morris fiercely argued a foul call and was ejected from the game.
While the Lakers played hard until the final whistle, it’s hard to win a game when you turn it over 22 times.
One of the lone bright spots for the Lakers in the loss was Caldwell-Pope, who regained his shooting form and finished with a game-high 28 points.
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