The Los Angeles Lakers had no LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kyle Kuzma and Talen Horton-Tucker, but still put up a good fight on the road against the Miami Heat in a rematch of last year’s NBA Finals.
The short-handed Lakers managed to make it a game in the fourth quarter, but lost 110-104 on Thursday.
James (right, high-ankle sprain) and Davis (right calf strain) remain out indefinitely due to injury. Kuzma was unavailable due to a calf strain and Horton-Tucker had to serve a one-game suspension for leaving the bench in Tuesday’s altercation against the Toronto Raptors.
With those four out, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was much more aggressive offensively, finishing with a team-high 28 points and shooting 6 of 11 from the three-point line.
In a closely contested battle, the Lakers led by as many as four points early in the third quarter. However, Miami pulled away in the fourth quarter with the play of Jimmy Butler, who finished with a team-high 28 points.
After missing three games due to a bruised right big toe, new addition Andre Drummond was effective in his second game for the Lakers, finishing with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Drummond replaced Marc Gasol in the starting lineup, who did not see the floor against the Heat.
“Be himself and get comfortable in our system, that’s the simplest way to put it,” Vogel said about Drummond playing in his second game for the Lakers. “Dominate the boards. Be the lob threat he is, make plays occasionally in the post and try to execute the coverages that we have in place defensively.”
Markieff Morris received two technical fouls and was ejected for arguing a non-call on his base-line jumper late in the game. Morris finished with 13 points in 33 minutes.
The Lakers dropped to 32-20 with the loss, while the Heat improved to 27-25.
Top player: Wesley Matthews started in place of Kuzma and finished with 14 points, shooting 3 of 8 from beyond the arc.
What I liked: Even with James and Davis out, the Lakers continue play scrappy on the defensive end the floor, finishing with nine steals and three blocks.
What I didn’t like: The Lakers again struggled to take care of the ball, finishing with 22 turnovers. Miami scored 33 points off those turnovers.
Injuries: Lakers guard Alex Caruso left the game with left knee soreness but later returned. Vogel said that Kyle Kuzma had an MRI that confirmed a Grade one calf strain that forced him to miss Thursday’s game against Miami. Vogel said Kuzma asked to come out toward the end of L.A.’s win over the Toronto Raptors because his calf was tightening up on him. Vogel provided no update on LeBron James and Anthony Davis, other than they are making progress in their recovery from their injuries. James has missed the last 10 games with a right, high-ankle sprain and Davis has missed 24 games in a row with a right calf strain near the Achilles tendon. While not available to play, Vogel said it’s been good to have James on the road. “He has a great impact on our group, our guys’ energy,” Vogel said. “It’s good to have him out there arguing with the refs with me (laughs). … It’s just great to have him around.”
They said it: “It’s another great feeling being able to play with the best player in the world in LeBron James and Anthony Davis – all of these guys. To be able to put on this Lakers’ uniform is going to be thrilling, it’s going to be fun and exciting.” – Shooting guard Ben McLemore on joining the Lakers.