Jimmy Butler, who finished with a team-leading 23 points, missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer at the end of the game after a missed free throw by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope gave the Heat one last chance to end the Lakers’ 12-game road winning streak. Four other Heat players also scored in double-figures among a balanced team offense but there were no breakout performances that could counter the superstar duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who combined for 61 points. James nearly had a triple-double with 12 assists and nine rebounds — as well as eight turnovers.
Rebounds were a big issue, with the Lakers outrebounding the Heat 51-34, nor did Miami shoot well from deep at just 10-33 — something that could have equalized the clear talent differential on the court at times. Justise Winslow, with his size and versatility, and Goran Dragic’s decision-making and steadiness were missed tonight.
Miami was at their best in the second quarter, displaying crisp passing that broke down the Lakers’ defense and led to quality looks at the basket. They built a 14-point lead but the length and athleticism of the Lakers would take over the game and dictate the flow of the game. Put in the rare position of playing behind in the second half at the AmericanAirlines Arena, the Heat nonetheless put up a fight until the very end and got as close to three in the final moments of the game.
What’s next: The Heat must put this emotional loss behind them with another tough test on the road when they visit the Dallas Mavericks tomorrow night at 8:30pm.