After the heat was greatly surpassed in the first two games and Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic lost to injuries, the heat recovered and capitalized on the Lakers’ troubles with a 115-104 win in Game 3 on Sunday. Butler was the leader with 40 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists, combining his postseason career with the best all-round playoff game of his career.
The heat output was not lightning fast. Butler made his way to the basket to avoid a tough offensive, and center Kelly Olynyk hit three three-points to take 17 points off the bench in a night when both outside offenses went cold. On the defensive, Miami took advantage of Los Angeles’ 20 sales and struck effectively to fend off a Lakers run early in the fourth quarter.
Game 3 brought the first moments of real tension to these finals. Miami took the lead 22-9 and opened a 14-point spread in the middle of the third quarter. The first quarter, in particular, was a comedy of mistakes for the Lakers, who turned 10 in the first 12 minutes, lost Anthony Davis to nasty trouble, and scored just 23 points, the lowest total in the first quarter of that playoff run. LeBron James was out of sync, throwing the occasional passport into traffic and out of bounds. Davis was worse, making four turnovers and unable to score or attempt a shot until the beginning of the second quarter.
Without the Lakers’ bank buying time for their superstar duo, The Heat would have won. Reserve strikers Markieff Morris and Kyle Kuzma provided stability in an unorganized attack and scored two three-points each before half-time. Kuzma ended the ugly first quarter with a clean three-pointer from the corner after a rare series of sharp passes from his Lakers teammates. Morris provided another key bump early in the fourth round, hitting three consecutive pointers to short tie the result at 89 at 9:30.
But even if they built momentum, the Lakers couldn’t get out of the way. Signs of frustration from the Lakers were everywhere: James and Davis exchanged glances early on, and both stars advocated unsuccessful fouls with the referees. James, who threw away a pass with less than three minutes remaining and the Lakers went down by eight, ended up with 25 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, but his eight turnovers set a season high for the regular season and playoffs.
Davis really had a night to forget when he scored two early fouls in the first quarter, a third foul in the middle of the second quarter and his fourth foul just two minutes into the second half. The all-star striker, who was a leading MVP candidate for the Game 3 final, never quite hit the track with 15 points, five rebounds and five turnovers in his shaky playoff performance. The Lakers were beaten by 26 points in Davis’ 33 minutes on the court.
When the Lakers were in chaos, Butler kept breaking off. The all-star forward showed no sign of the sprained ankle he suffered in Game 1 and fell repeatedly on harrowing drives through traffic onto the pitch.
The heat needed everything it got from Butler, who arrived from the Philadelphia 76ers in a sign and bargain last off-season. He was Miami’s main source of attack on the route. He scored 10 points in the fourth quarter by running to the basket and methodically withdrawing defenders for turnaround jumpers. Miami left a lot on the table offensively, with start guards Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson looking timid at times, trying to convert open shots that could have provided more breathing space.
Miami avoided what seemed inevitable and was preparing to level the series on Tuesday. As the last few seconds passed, a weary butler made no expression and walked to the sidelines with his hands on his hips.
It wasn’t perfect, but it was enough.
Find highlights from game 3 …
October 4, 2020 at 10:12 p.m. EDT
Final: Miami wins 115-104 to lead Lakers’ streak to 2-1
By Ava Wallace
Turnover and poor defensive performance by the Lakers’ starters have put Los Angeles to fail in this game, but all credit goes to Jimmy Butler for taking the Heat for the Heat. The striker was the player of the night – with the performance of his career – with 40 points in 14v20 shooting, 11 rebounds, 13 assists, two steals and two blocks. It is his first playoff triple-double.
Butler helped bring Miami back to the top after the Lakers completed an eight-point run to take their first lead since the beginning of the second quarter.
LeBron James led the Lakers with 25 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and eight turnovers. The series officially runs at least five games.
October 4, 2020 at 9:39 p.m. EDT
End of the third quarter: Heat Lead 85-80
By Ava Wallace
The image of Jimmy Butler, who was on the pitch for an extended period towards the end of the quarter, wasn’t a great image for Heat fans – the all-star striker rolled his ankle in Game 1 after all. But the image of Butler hitting his short-haul sweater in his favorite sweet spot throughout the quarter should be enough to make Miami fans smile.
Butler leads all goal scorers through three quarters with 30 points in the 11-of-15 shooting and is the heart and soul of this previous Heat performance. The Lakers are behind in part thanks to Anthony Davis’ somewhat limited minutes due to nasty issues.
The question going towards the fourth is whether Miami can keep up this pace. The heat has been strong in the playoffs so far, but then Butler didn’t play almost every minute for the first three quarters. The Lakers may have a chance to take advantage of this.
October 4, 2020 at 9:04 p.m. EDT
Halftime: Miami leads 58-54
By Ava Wallace
The Lakers’ starters continued to underperform in Game 2, but Miami’s bench is always played out when Jimmy Butler takes off. The result is a slight head start for the heat at halftime.
Speaking of butlers, he’s doing anything for Miami again. He leads a fairly efficient heat offense with 19 points and six assists, while Jae Crowder steps in with 10 points. The Lakers offensive isn’t going quite as well as it was in the first two games – LeBron James is leading with 16 points, six assists and six rebounds – and Anthony Davis, who fouled three times in the first half, isn’t nearly as powerful as on Friday.
October 4, 2020 at 8:17 p.m. EDT
First quarter: Miami leads 26-23
By Ava Wallace
Remember how adamant the Lakers were after their Game 1 win not to take their lead for granted? There was no such energy early Sunday.
Los Angeles had 10 sales in the first quarter alone (nine total in Game 2), and Miami took the advantage to build a 13-point lead before the Lakers slowly and steadily slumped. It didn’t help that the heat didn’t. t score while Jimmy Butler took a three-minute break; The all-star striker leads Miami with eight points and three assists.
LeBron James leads the Lakers with eight points and Kyle Kuzma has six.
October 4, 2020 at 6:50 p.m. EDT
Pre-game reading: The NBA final has been an idiot so far
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October 4, 2020 at 6:31 p.m. EDT
What to look for in game 3
By Ava Wallace
Well here we are again. Miami Heat big man Bam Adebayo (neck strain) and point guard Goran Dragic (foot) are eliminated for Game 3, meaning the Heat likely against the 2-0 Los Angeles Lakers The series will suffer another hard blow.
It will be interesting to see if Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra stays with Miami’s zone defense or makes adjustments – one metric the Heat has been successful in limiting the Lakers’ layups and dunks. Los Angeles – not a great long-range shooting team – attempted 47 three-point wins on Friday in its 124-114 win, the highest in franchise playoff history and an NBA final record. But the Lakers still managed an efficient night of shooting behind Anthony Davis and LeBron James, who the shorthanded heat struggle to keep up no matter how hard they try.
Will the Lakers keep taking those trickier long shots (and why shouldn’t they)? Will fans see adaptations by Kelly Olynyk and Meyers Leonard, or is it hopeless to defend Davis with these guys? Will someone please put a microphone on Udoni’s Haslem? Things to think about before pointing out.