The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Miami Heat on the second game of their road stretch, 113-110. The win marked their 13th consecutive road win. It was a back and forth game, one of those that lived up to the “basketball is a game of runs” cliche, as both teams held double-digit leads at one point or another.
It was a fun game from the outset, and the pregame hype (#1 seed in the West vs. #2 seed in the East) matched the product on the court. The game was played at a frenetic pace, with both teams more than willing to run the court and get out in transition. The Lakers struggled for much of the first half, with the Heat’s lead reaching 14 points at one point during the second quarter. However, Los Angeles was able to finish the half by cutting the Miami lead down to 8 thanks to a 9-2 run.
The Lakers were able to stay hot out of the gates in the second half, tying the game at 65 early on in the third quarter before taking their first lead since the first quarter, when the score was 30-29. They would not relinquish the lead after that point. After struggling on offense on Wednesday night against Orlando, Anthony Davis stepped up in a big way, seemingly scoring at will against an outmatched Heat defense. He was a threat from outside all night, and that led to some good shots inside the paint as well, with AD finishing with a 33-10 line and coming up with some crucial crunch time rebounds. LeBron James was sloppy early on, but he grew into the game and caught fire at the beginning of the third frame, ultimately finishing one rebound shy of what would have been his second consecutive triple double.
Miami managed to stay in the game thanks to the Lakers inability to protect the basketball, forcing 19 Lakers turnovers. The Lakers are not typically a terribly turnover prone team, averaging just under 15 per game going into the game (tied for 12th best in the NBA), but Miami seemed to have no issues forcing them tonight. Jimmy Butler was a menace all night, but the Lakers’ biggest problem seemed to be Kelly Olynyk, who had 15-6-3 and was active all night, however he didn’t close the game (with the exception of the final inbounds pass). Impressively, Los Angeles limited Miami’s young rookies Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn very well, with the two combining to shoot 10-27 from the floor.
Frank Vogel’s rotations were slightly odd, with Rajon Rondo having a bad night and still receiving the most minutes of any player on the bench unit with 25. Rondo finished the night 0-5 (0-4 from deep), and he curiously stayed in the game and took minutes away from Alex Caruso. Rondo is not exactly the player to shoot his way out of a slump, and his 4 assists were nice, but he was largely a hinderance to the Lakers on both ends of the court. In fairness to him, it was a rough night for the entire bench unit, as the starters had to do much of the heavy lifting.
The Lakers will now head north with the Atlanta Hawks on deck for Sunday afternoon, 3:00 PST.