The Los Angles Lakers could not overcome a rare off night by go-to guy LeBron James, falling to the Miami Heat in the first meeting between the two teams since L.A. won the NBA Finals last season, 96-94 Saturday night at Staples Center.
James stole the Miami in-bounds pass with four second left, finding Alex Caruso for a long jumper to tie the game the clanged off the rim at the buzzer.
James shot just 7-of-21 from the field, finishing with 19 points, nine assists and nine rebounds in 37 minutes. He expended a lot of energy on offense with Anthony Davis still out with a calf strain.
“The biggest thing is he has to be more aggressive to find his shot more when AD (Davis) is not on the court," Kyle Kuzma said about James. "He has been in certain rotations and lineups that we have, usually in that first lineup in the second quarter he’s out there and he’s the one with the ball in his hands taking a majority of the shots.”
Kuzma started in place of Davis, finishing with 23 points and four rebounds.
Kendrick Nunn led the Heat with 29 points, shooting 5-of-6 from the 3-point line.
With the loss, the Lakers dropped their second game in a row for just the second time this season -- and three of their last four -- falling to 22-9, while the Heat improved to 13-17 on year.
Top player: Montrezl Harrell had a productive night, finishing with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
What I liked: The Lakers held Miami to 8-of-28 (28 percent) from beyond the arc.
What I did not like: The Lakers were outscored in the paint by the Heat 52-38 and outrebounded 58-51.
Injuries: Davis remains out for the next month with a calf strain. And point guard Dennis Schröder will miss at least two more games due to the league’s health and safety protocols.
They said it: “Teams in the league are going to shoot 30 to 40 threes, if not more, and we’ve got to contest up. We really have got to execute our coverages. When we really minimize the time we’re in rotations, that allows us to just be better staying home at the 3-point line. But when we have coverage break downs, or containment breakdowns or we get beat on cuts, those are situations where we have to bring help, and we’re exposed on the backside.” -- Lakers head coach Frank Vogel on his team doing a better job of defending the 3-point line.