Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY
Published 11:42 p.m. ET Sept. 30, 2020
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — That was just way too easy for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Anthony Davis shined in his NBA Finals debut, LeBron James had a near-triple-double in his 50th Finals game and the Lakers treated the 3-point line like a layup line for two-plus quarters.
Davis had 34 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three blocks, and James scored 25 points, procured 13 rebounds and delivered nine assists in Los Angeles’ 116-98 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday.
While the Lakers ended up 39.5% on 3-pointers, they shot 64.7% from 3 in the first half when they pummeled the Heat.
It’s just one game, but the Heat found themselves with multiple problems defensively, and coach Erik Spoelstra and his staff need to tinker with assignments. Of course, stopping Davis and James poses problems for every team.
The Lakers exploited mismatches. For all their offensive prowess, Miami’s Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro, Andre Iguodala and Jae Crowder had trouble defensively.
Los Angeles’ size and athleticism also presented a problem. The Lakers outrebounded Miami 54-36, and Miami had to continually foul the Lakers, who were 25-for-27 on foul shots.
Making matters worse for the Miami, point guard Goran Dragic exited the game in the second quarter with a left foot injury and didn’t return, and center Bam Adebayo played just 21 minutes and wasn’t on the Heat’s bench for the final 18 minutes with a strained left shoulder.
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It was a game for about a quarter.
Miami took a 25-12 lead in the first quarter on hot shooting. But the Lakers went to a smaller lineup, and took a 31-28 lead by the end of the first quarter. The Lakers clobbered the Heat in the second quarter, and when added up, the Lakers outscored the Heat 53-23 in the final 16 minutes of the first half.
The game got worse from there for the Heat as the Lakers’ lead ballooned to 87-55 midway through the third quarter.
This was the first Finals game for several Heat players, and it showed. If there’s a lone bright spot, it’s that the Heat cut a 32-point deficit to 13 and kept James and Davis on the court until the final minute.
Jimmy Butler led the Heat with 23 points and five assists, and Kendrick Nunn had 18 points and five rebounds off the bench.