As March and the first half of the NBA season approaches, Anthony Davis’ injury may not be the Los Angeles Lakers’ biggest problem.
Saturday night, the defending champions were again left out in the cold by an icy three-pointer, losing 96-94 to the Miami Heat in a second round NBA 2020 Finals game – this time at Staples Center. Los Angeles dropped to first place 22-9 on the season. Third place in the Western Conference rankings.
The Lakers hit 13 of 45 shots, contributing to the team’s 39.3% increase on the court. LeBron James (37.2% against three this season) made one of his eight deep attempts.
The Heat were even colder than the 3-point Lakers. Miami made eight attempts out of 28 (28.6%), but this is broadly in line with Eric Spoelstra’s 2019-20 team, which ranks 24th on a 3-point scale (35.1%) prior to the weekend.
However, the Lakers were left out in the cold especially in the fourth quarter of the game.
LAL has been playing with tired legs for a few weeks now, probably due to the 3 on 4 shot. The quarter is due:
LeBron: 0 for 4
Kuz: 0 for 4
Gasol/Caruso/Matthews/THT: all 0 for 1
KCP: 1 for 1
– Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) February 21, 2021
James, Kyle Kuzma (4-11 3PT) and Wes Matthews (2-7) missed key three-pointers at key moments, while Alex Caruso missed a jump shot in transition at the buzzer that could have decided the game (not a three-pointer, but indicative of their shot on the perimeter). Overall, the Lakers missed 12 of 13 triple-double attempts in the final quarter.
Lol, are we still going to talk about this side of the plan from behind or are we just going to reserve it for Paul George? pic.twitter.com/ruusUcBibk
– Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) February 21, 2021
In the end, we weren’t patient enough, said Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in his post-game press conference on Zoom. I try to force a lot of things. The riders are either equal or ahead. By the end of the game, we weren’t playing the Laker basketball we normally play.
Los Angeles tightened up the defense and held the Heat to 15 points in the final period. Offensively, they look good according to head coach Frank Vogel. However, they could not overcome their inability to make a big move in the closing minutes.
LeBron James doesn’t care if the Lakers shot
James downplayed the Lakers’ shot after the game. We look good… The shots didn’t fall in the fourth.
On a positive note, the 45 attempts at the other end of the arc were the highest of the season for the Lakers, and Vogel was pleased with his team’s willingness to embark on this adventure.
We’ve been very shy from the three-point line the last few games, so that’s the encouraging part, Vogel said afterward. He also noted how Miami leads the NBA in defense in the paint and how they force you to play them outside.
If you call these shots, you’re going to have a good night against this team. Otherwise, it’ll be a long night.
After the defeat against the Lakers, they are now 5-2 on the season without Davis, but 0-2 against opponents who are playoff contenders if you include Miami. The Purple and Gold couldn’t keep up at all Thursday against the Brooklyn Nets, losing 109-98 at 8:30 a.m. from downtown.
Alarming trend of the Lakers at 3 points
Regardless, the Lakers’ poor performance in the latter stages of the game underscores a troubling trend of late. As of Saturday, the Lakers were hitting 40 percent of their three goals (12.9 of 32.2 attempts per game) in the first 16 games of the season – the most accurate teams in basketball.
Since then, the champions have started to fall back. In the last 14 games (not counting Miami), Bird’s team has made just 30.2% of its three-pointers (8.4 to 27.6 attempts per game).
We have to figure out how to play without one of our creators in Dennis [Schroeder] and without one of our stars in D.C., Caruso said after the game. It’s gonna take a while… At times tonight we played very well in attack and took free kicks…. That’s all you can ask. Eventually, the plans will turn into… the law of averages.
By mid-January, Caruso had won more than 58% of the three votes to lead the NBA. Since then it has been less than 30%. Caldwell-Pope shot nearly 57 percent on more than four attempts per game in its first 13 games, but has remained below 24 percent since then (not counting Saturday).
In total, the Lakers have scored 28 points in their last five games against Miami playoff contenders Saturday, Brooklyn Thursday, two losses to the Denver Nuggets and a one-point win over the Boston Celtics (1/3o) and Philadelphia 76ers (1/27).5 percent (52 of 182) from beyond the arc, which would easily put them in last place in basketball (the Cleveland Cavaliers are currently 30th, 33.9 percent).
Yet James also believes in his team’s ability to find their opportunity. In fact, he repeated Caruso’s sentiments almost word for word.
I don’t think that’s a reason, LeBron said of their inappropriate shooting. Our boys did well in the gym, we all worked hard …. The law of averages applies. He recalled that the Lakers had cold moments last season, including during the playoffs.
If the Lakers are devoid of AD and Schroeder – at least for the next two games – they hope to prove the theories of Caruso and James right. Otherwise, GM Rob Pelinka may have to look elsewhere for assistance, either in the relief market or on the trading block.
If the problem persists after Davis’ return, what seemed like a strong point early in the season could turn into a setback for the Lakers.
frequently asked questions
IsDavis better than LeBron?
This game is more exciting than we thought, as Davis is a dominant player in his prime, but LeBron is, not surprisingly, the better player. He is simply the best passer in the game with the best IQ and deserves the advantage over Anthony Davis.
Is Anthony Davis badly injured?
The team says he has an Achilles tendon strain – the same tendon he had when he had Achilles tendonitis – and they’re going to give him an MRI Monday in Minneapolis. Davis, who spoke to reporters after the game, wasn’t too concerned about the severity of the injury.
Have the Lakers given up too much for Davis?
To bring in Davis, the Lakers traded Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, … After the trade, the general consensus was that the Lakers had given up too much, especially since Davis would be able to enter unrestricted as a free agent after the 2019-20 season.