Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, NBA Playoffs

LeBron James, Lakers outlast Heat despite Bam Adebayo’s Game 4 return

The Los Angeles Lakers took a 3-1 lead in the 2020 NBA Finals over the Miami Heat.

After Jimmy Butler’s incredible Game 3 performance, and with Bam Adebayo returning for Game 4, it felt like the Miami Heat had an opening to swing the momentum of the 2020 NBA Finals in their favor.

LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers had other ideas.

In a 6-point win Tuesday night, the Lakers improved to 3-1 in the series, putting them one victory away from winning their 17th championship in franchise history. The King led the way with 28 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists, while Anthony Davis chipped in 22 points, 9 rebounds and a dagger 3-pointer to put the game away in the fourth quarter. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 15 points, 10 of which came in the first half to lead the charge for LA.

Butler couldn’t quite replicate his masterful Game 3 performance, finishing with 22 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists as the Lakers’ defensive strategy — sticking AD on him — limited his scoring for most of the night. Tyler Herro added 21 points, Duncan Robinson chipped in 17 and Bam Adebayo notched 15 points and 7 rebounds in his first game back, but the Heat were out-executed by LeBron, KCP and the smothering Lakers defense down the stretch.

Final

Los Angeles Lakers

102

Miami Heat

96

What else did you miss from Game 4 between the Lakers and Heat?

After a back-and-forth first half, the Lakers tried to pull away in the third quarter, opening up a 71-64 lead — their largest of the night to that point — as LeBron James came to life. The King had been held to 3-of-8 shooting for only 8 points in the first two quarters, but he matched that in the first six minutes of the third quarter, dropping nine quick points on 3-of-3 shooting.

The Heat quickly responded with a 6-0 spurt to keep it close, but the Lakers held a 75-70 advantage heading into the final frame. Including the regular season and the playoffs this year, Los Angeles was 55-0 when leading heading into the fourth quarter — a mark that would improve to 56-0 Tuesday night.

At about the 8-minute mark of the final frame, Miami got a boost from a favorable swing. When Markieff Morris missed a 3 that would’ve put LA up by 9 points, Davis stayed on the ground after Alex Caruso fell into his knees. Herro hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 3, and AD was slow to get up, grimacing in pain.

Luckily Davis was okay and remained in the game, but the Heat quickly tied the game at 83 after Robinson banked in a 3 and Butler made a layup on the next possession.

That’s when LeBron took over, powering in a tough and-1 and then getting to the foul line on the Lakers’ next possession to build up a 5-point lead for his team.

The resilient Heat battled back to chop the deficit down to 2, but then Caldwell-Pope — the Lakers’ leading scorer in the first half — came up big, hitting a corner 3 in transition and taking Robinson off the dribble for a high-flying layup to extend the lead back to 7 with 2 minutes to go.

On a broken play created by two Lakers colliding in midair going for a defensive rebound, the Heat struck back on a Jae Crowder 3-pointer. But Rajon Rondo’s first field goal couldn’t have been easier on an uncontested layup the following play, putting the lead back to 6 and effectively closing Miami out once Davis knocked down a dagger 3 on the next possession.

Game 6 will be on Friday as the Lakers look to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy for the 17th time.

Next: LeBron James honors Black Mamba with Kobe T-shirt

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