Anthony Davis and LeBron James propelled Los Angeles to a 124-114 victory over the Miami Heat on Friday, which put the Lakers within two wins of their first NBA title since 2010.
The injury exhausted Heat hung on as best he could, but James ’33 points and Davis’ 32 were just too many.
Davis, playing his first NBA Finals, overpowered a sorely missing Heat defense against injured Bam Adebayo. He added 14 rebounds as the Lakers led two-to-none in the NBA best-of-seven final in the league’s quarantine bubble in Orlando, Fla.
“He’s a top player,” James, playing in his 10th championship series, said of Davis, whose 14 rebounds included eight offensive boards. “He understands the position we find ourselves in. ”
Davis made 14 of his first 15 shots from the field, finishing with 15 baskets in 20 attempts.
For the second game in a row, James approached a triple-double, adding nine assists and nine rebounds.
Rajon Rondo added 16 points off the bench and Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 11 points each for the Lakers.
Jimmy Butler led the Heat with 25 points and Kelly Olynyk added 24 off the bench as the Heat had to cope not only without Adebayo, but with star guard Goran Dragic, who was sidelined by injury on the left foot.
Even without them, James said, Miami remained a dangerous team, adding that the Lakers had to fight harder on the defensive end.
“Myself, the coach and AD were not happy with our defensive presence tonight,” said James. “We can do a lot better.
“Myself and AD, we are not happy with the only victory. We want to be great.
“They have five guys on the floor, that’s a threat, as they showed tonight,” James added of Miami. “So we have to keep staying on our P’s and Q’s, crossing our T’s and dotted our I’s throughout a game. ”
Stung by the Heat’s quick start in Game 1, the Lakers came out of the hot blocks.
Chasing a 17th NBA title, but the first in a decade, the Lakers dominated indoors, edging the Heat 18-6 in the paint in the first quarter to come out of the opening period by six points.
Danny Green’s three-time pointer pushed the Lakers’ lead to 13 three minutes into the second quarter.
The Heat reduced the deficit to four on three occasions, but Rondo, a former NBA champion with the Boston Celtics, stepped up from the Lakers bench, delivering impressive fairway passes first to James, then to Davis, whose dunk and free throw increased the score to 64-49 with 1:48 remaining in the first half.
Rondo himself led for a layup in the last minute of half-time that extended the Lakers lead to 17 points, and they took a 68-54 advantage in the break.
The Lakers logged on 55.5 percent of their shots from the field in the first half. They were less successful at three points, but not for lack of tries, connecting with nine of their huge 27 first-half attempts beyond the arc.
They finished with 16 three points from 47 astonishing attempts.
Davis applied it in the third quarter, racking up 15 points on a range of shots – jumpers, a recoil of three and a driving float just the start.
– Moments of truth –
Although the Lakers have extended the lead to 18 points on several occasions, the Heat would not disappear.
They beat Los Angeles 39-35 in the period – but in the end, they just didn’t have enough stopping power and they couldn’t bring the deficit below nine points in the final quarter.
“We need a little more from everyone, whatever it is,” Olynyk said.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra admitted that the Heat faced a tough challenge against the bigger and physical Lakers.
“In those moments of truth where we got the chance to bring the game closer, it usually seemed to end with an offensive rebound or something close to the basket,” Spoelstra said.
“But that’s the deal. If you want something bad enough, you will know how to overcome it.
“They are tall and Anthony Davis is an elite player. We’re trying to accomplish something and you just have to take it to another level, ”added Spoelstra, whose team will try to do just that in Game 3 on Sunday.
© 2020 AFP