This was a hell of a game by the Los Angeles Lakers.
They didn’t have Anthony Davis. They didn’t have LeBron James. They didn’t even have Lonnie Walker IV. They even lost Troy Brown, Jr. after the first half. But the Lakers, who were backed into a corner, fought their way to a great victory against a healthier Miami Heat, 112-109.
This was a close game from top to bottom but what we really appreciated was that the Lakers didn’t roll over. In fact, they moved the ball a ton more, had a lot of energy, and got it done on the defensive end.
Sure, the game wasn’t perfect; they turned the ball over 17 times in the whole game. Hell, Russell Westbrook had 7 turnovers. But they noticeably cut down on that carelessness as the Lakers only gave the ball away five times in the second half. Westbrook didn’t have any turnovers after the first half.
Dennis Schröder carried the offensive load. He got hit in the face by an elbow in the first half. He rolled his ankle in the fourth quarter. But he came out of that timeout and converted a three-pointer immediately. Schröder made clutch shots and free throws on the way to 14 of his 32 points in the final period.
While Westbrook had a lot of turnovers, he was great on setting the table for Wenyen Gabriel, Thomas Bryant, and Schröder. Russ finished with 21-8-9. Speaking of Bryant, he was powerful in the paint, finishing with 21 points and 9 assists.
And with the Lakers hanging on to a 108-106 lead with 15 seconds, Austin Reaves whipped a dangerous and ballsy pass to Westbrook for a lay-up. It put the Lakers up four. It was definitely the play of the game:
Max Strus cut the deficit to one with a three-pointer with four seconds left. Still, Schröder made the free throws to make it a three-point game. Jimmy Butler missed a desperation three and the Lakers have won three in a row.
This is the kind of effort we all like to see from the Lakers. Again, no LeBron, no Davis, no Lonnie, and they lost Troy Brown after halftime. Schröder got beat up in the game and he’ll have a billion ice packs for the next couple of nights. But what a fantastic performance he had with that season-high 32 points. Westbrook kept playing even with a disastrous first half in terms of taking care of the ball and he was mistake-free in the second half. Thomas Bryant has really been quite the contributor since he came back. And Austin Reaves is just fearless, even when his line wasn’t great.
As for Miami, it’s a disappointing loss for them. They had a healthy team. Bam Adebayo had his third straight 30-point game (30 points and 13 boards). Butler scored 27. Tyler Herro didn’t have a great shooting night; he only put in 9 points. And they just couldn’t get over the hump against the shorthanded Lakers. They did lead by 6 in the fourth as they were able to slow the game down but the Lakers picked up the pace again and were able to hold them off at the end.
The Lakers get the Hawks on Friday at home as they look for their fourth straight win. Who knows if this game is a turning point? Regardless, this is arguably their biggest win of the season considering their circumstances. But even if they did lose, sometimes, all you can ask for is for the Lakers to give them their all.
They did. And they won.