March 8, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

LeBron James disappears in second half, Lakers lose to Heat

Sometimes you repeat something enough because you earnestly believe it to be true.

“We have enough firepower,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel has repeated.

And sometimes you say it over and over to try to convince yourself.

Vogel said the Lakers had enough in the aftermath of last week’s loss to Brooklyn, in which the short-handed Lakers looked badly outclassed. And he said it again — three times actually — before the Lakers’ NBA Finals rematch with Miami on Saturday.

With Anthony Davis in the midst of at least a four-week absence and the Lakers hopefully halfway through Dennis Schroder’s trip through the NBA’s health and safety protocols, it’s hard to know just how right Vogel is.

The Lakers lost 96-94 to Miami, a team that still is trying to find its footing after last year’s surprise Finals run, with LeBron James scoring only four points in the second half.

The Lakers cut their deficit to three as James flew past Andre Iguodala for a two-handed dunk with three minutes to go, and got to within two on Kyle Kuzma’s three-point play 90 seconds later. The Heat seemingly iced the game at the line, but a blown inbounds pass gave the Lakers one last shot.

Double-teamed, James passed to Alex Caruso, but his potential game-tying attempt didn’t fall.

Earlier, the Lakers fell behind by 15, their defense badly exploited by a number of matchups that severely favored the Heat.

With no Davis, the Lakers didn’t have their best option to slow Miami All-Star Bam Adebayo, with the slow-footed Marc Gasol unable to stay in front of him.

The Lakers didn’t fare better on the perimeter, with guard Kendrick Nunn scoring 15 points in the first quarter. Adebayo had 14 in the half, with Miami scoring nearly 2 points for every one the Lakers had inside the paint.

Part of it was execution, but part of it had to be personnel with the Lakers’ peskiest perimeter defender, Schroder, and their best overall defensive player, Davis, unable to play.

The Lakers’ cold shooting also continued early, the team making only 2 of 10 in the first quarter, but after days of begging his team to shoot more from deep regardless of the percentages, the Lakers kept firing.

They hit 5 of 11 in the second, cutting into Miami lead, and thanks to some wide-open threes in the third, the Lakers actually briefly held a lead.

But with James on the bench, the Lakers committed to not asking him to do too much, the team predictably struggled.

The Heat ripped off an 8-0 run in three minutes in the third, quickly regaining control and forcing the Lakers to fight uphill the rest of the way.