The Lakers were without Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder in this Finals rematch against the Miami Heat but they fought hard right until the final horn.
LeBron James forced the turnover on the final possession but, in the end, it was an Alex Caruso miss at the buzzer that sealed the loss - the defending champions' second consecutive and third in the last four.
The Heat survive to beat the Lakers: pic.twitter.com/wFa7oCsGHf- ESPN (@espn) February 21, 2021
Without AD and Schroder, multiple Lakers stepped up as five finished in double figures led by Kyle Kuzma's 23 points and James' near triple-double of 19 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists.
Lakers talk patience after loss
Davis missed his third straight game with a strain in his right Achilles while Schroder missed his second straight under the NBA's 'health and safety protocols'.
"We're figuring out how to play without one of our creators in Dennis and one of our stars in AD," Caruso said postgame. "That's going to take a little time, and obviously we don't have practice time."
Among the highest-ranked defensive teams in the league, the Lakers allowed 52 points in the paint and 21 points of their 15 turnovers.
"We're going to continue to work on our habits and be great for each other," James said. "We all put in the work, so it's not that. The law of averages will even itself out. We had lapses last season, and we had them during the playoffs. We know they'll even them out over the course of the year."
Other key contributors were fill-in starter Wesley Matthews (10 points eight rebounds) and reserve Montrezl Harrell (18 points, 10 rebounds, two steals).
Nunn leads Heat's balanced offence
Jimmy Butler's three-game triple-double streak was snapped but he still contributed across the board with 24 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and two steals.
Since his return at the end of January against the Sacramento Kings, the Heat have gone 7-5 after starting out 6-12. In this one, Kendrick Nunn top-scored and provided a spark early, scoring 15 of his 27 in the first quarter.
Kendrick outscored everyone tonight- Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) February 21, 2021
Bam Adebayo was the other top performer in their squad with 16 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, and two steals.
Heat struggled to knock long-range bombs, only knocking down 8-of-28 from distance but they did enough to survive and win this Finals rematch.
The Heat now head to Oklahoma City to cap-off their seven-game road trip to play the Thunder in a couple of days. On the other hand, the Lakers remain in LA and host the Wizards in a couple of days.
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