The Los Angeles Lakers kicked off their summer league in a way they hope the 2022-23 season will end — in dominating fashion.
The Lakers cruised past the Miami Heat in a 100-66 victory behind a suffocating defense and efficient offense. It was a far cry from the Lakers’ 2021-22 season, but a strong start for prospects L.A. may be able to utilize during the season.
Mac McClung led the Lakers with 17 points. Paris Bass added 15 points on 5-of-11 shooting. Cole Swider contributed 13 points on 83.3% shooting including 8 in the fourth. Second-round draft pick Max Christie struggled, finishing with 5 points on 2-for-11 from the field. However, he gobbled up nine rebounds.
The first quarter began with sloppy passes and poor shots reminiscent of a first Summer League game. L.A.’s active defense kept them in control while the offense started slow.
The Lakers began the game hot, jumping to a 7-0 lead within two minutes. Vitto Brown Jr. had the first five points of the game for L.A. before Scottie Pippen Jr. extended the lead. Shareef O’Neal, who had six points in the game, also scored the first possession he came in.
Miami cut the Lakers’ lead down to as little as two midway through the first. The Lakers though snatched control of the game with a 16-2 run. It wasn’t as strong a finish to the second quarter, however, with the Heat chipping the Lakers’ lead to 12.
The Lakers’ surprisingly strong defense carried into the second quarter. They held Miami to just four points in the first four minutes. The Heat shot 20.5% from the field in the first half and 28% for the entire game.
The defense became key as L.A.’s offense fizzled midway through the quarter. They found their groove later led by a familiar face — two-way player Jay Huff.
He did his best LeBron James impression, providing the Lakers juice with solid rim protection and efficient scoring. A reverse dunk with two minutes left pushed the Lakers’ lead up to 20 and L.A. never looked back.
Huff scored seven points in the second after none in the first 10 minutes. The Lakers entered halftime up 24.
Miami came out bringing the heat on defense to start the second half. L.A. didn’t score the first four minutes of the game but still managed to be up 18 points. Pippen Jr. finally ended the drought with two free throws.
Similar to the second quarter, L.A.’s offense improved as time went on, however, it took longer this time. Bass scored six consecutive points near the end of the quarter to snag some momentum.
Even with a poor start to the half, the Lakers still finished the quarter up 29.
The Lakers’ strong play continued into the fourth quarter. Swider came alive with two 3-pointers and a nice dribble pull-up. They extended their lead to a game-high 38 after Swider drilled a three and Christie finally got on the board.
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