The Los Angeles Lakers returned to the court on Wednesday night, taking on the Miami Heat looking to sweep Florida on a back-to-back.
The Heat welcomed their two stars in Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo to the lineup, while the Lakers had LeBron James in action despite being questionable in the second of two straight games. Ultimately though, the Lakers ran out of gas and suffered a 112-98 loss to drop 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 care for the ball, allowing the Heat to go out in transition. James quickly erased that deficit, however, with five straight points to tie.
However, turnovers continued to be a problem for the Lakers early on, as Troy Brown Jr. and Austin Reaves gave away the ball on back-to-back possessions, leading to a Heat run and a Darvin Ham timeout.
In addition to his inability to guard the ball, the smaller Lakers also had problems on the defensive glass. After giving up 13 second chance points in the first quarter alone, the Lakers entered the second frame trailing 33-25.
The Lakers were able to cut their deficit early in the second quarter when Russell Westbrook and Wenyen Gabriel drilled back-to-back 3-pointers. Then LA finally took a page out of Miami’s book, transitioning out with James completing a three-point play to regain the lead.
As has been the case lately, the Lakers really struggled in non-James minutes midway through the second quarter. The Heat stretched their lead to nine before halftime in the locker room at 61-52 as Butler led all scorers with 19.
The Lakers didn’t seem to fix their problems at halftime, as they had two silly turnovers early in the third quarter, leading to five quick points from Miami before Dennis Schroder responded with a three-point play.
LA’s third-quarter struggles were once again a theme of this one, as they continued to struggle to care for the ball and Miami stretched their lead to 20. The Lakers entered the fourth quarter trailing by 17, needing a run ASAP. to turn it into a game.
Brown continued his shooting lately 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 stood out for the Heat in the third quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers, which was the only thing stopping the Lakers from building on the momentum when 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 given a chance by Ham. He assisted on the glass, and when Schroder hit a 3 the deficit was seven with four minutes to play.
Although the Lakers played solid defense, they were never able to overcome the hump offensively and Herro finally drained a dagger 3 to secure the Heat’s victory.
The difference in the game was turnovers and offensive rebounds, as the Lakers gave away 25 times compared to six for the Heat. Miami had 30 points from those turnovers to go along with 10 offensive rebounds.
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