Jimmy Butler Drops 28 Points as Heat Hold off Injury-Riddled LakersApril 9, 2021
In a rematch of the 2020 NBA Finals, the Miami Heat came out on top for the second time this season.
The Heat defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 110-104 on Thursday, improving to 27-25 behind 28 points from Jimmy Butler.
The Lakers, who are 32-20, were paced by double-doubles from Dennis Schroder and Andre Drummond, though it wasn't enough to overcome Miami.
- Jimmy Butler, Heat: 28 PTS, 7 REB, 5 AST, 3 STL
- Victor Oladipo, Heat: 18 PTS, 4 REB
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Lakers: 28 PTS, 4 REB
- Andre Drummond, Lakers: 15 PTS, 12 REB, 3 AST
Shorthanded Lakers Can't Keep Up
The Lakers have missed their two biggest stars lately, with LeBron James out with an ankle injury and Anthony Davis nearing a return from his strained calf. They took another hit when big Andre Drummond was sidelined with a toe injury, but he returned to the lineup Thursday after missing three games.
Marc Gasol, who entered Thursday averaging 5.1 points and 4.1 rebounds per game, filled in without him, but getting back their recently acquired center was a major key for Los Angeles against the Heat.
Drummond's presence figured to be even more important Thursday, as it was announced pregame that Kyle Kuzma—who had been filling in for James—would not play due to a calf injury. Wesley Matthews got the start in his place.
After trailing by as much as 11, the Lakers—led by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope's 15 points—came surging back to take a two-point lead into the break.
While the Lakers battled back in the third and entered the final quarter down by just three on back-and-forth buckets between the sides, Los Angeles started to get sloppy offensively, making a total of 18 turnovers by the start of the fourth quarter and ending the night with 22, which resulted in 33 Miami points.
Dennis Schroder was largely responsible for the turnover woes in the start of the third, as he made four in the first four minutes of the frame. He didn't hit his first field goal until there was 3:58 left on the clock, going 2-of-12 from the field. While he did log a game-high 14 assists, he also had a game-high seven turnovers.
Elsewhere, Matthews couldn't totally fill the void of Kuzma with 14 points but only one rebound, while Drummond was good for 15 points and 12 rebounds in his return.
If the Lakers had their main starters—or even their second-stringer in Kuzma—this game could have ended differently. With the season series over, the next time we could get a look at that would come in the NBA Finals.
Heat Take Advantage at the Line, on Turnovers
The Heat flew out to a 32-27 lead in the first quarter, thanks mostly to their strength at the line.
Miami went to the line 18 times in the first quarter and made 16 of those shots, while the Lakers didn't get their first chance from the line until there were 54 seconds left in the frame. Those 16 free points for the Heat made all the difference in an otherwise tight first quarter.
In contrast, it was free throws that eventually gave Los Angeles its first lead of the game when Ben McLemore went to the line and made all three attempts with under four minutes to play. The Heat got a taste of their own medicine in that frame as they were outscored 29-22 in the second quarter, and those free throws were just part of the comeback for the Lakers, who went on a 20-9 run late.
By the break, the Heat's effort—led by 11 points from Jimmy Butler and 10 from Tyler Herro—was for naught as the Lakers stormed back for the lead. The Heat were forced into 12 turnovers in the first half.
Miami took the lead back by the end of the third, though scoring was even for both teams through much of the period. This time, they found themselves on the other end of the turnover troubles, scoring 33 points off of turnovers by the end of the night.
With the Lakers down by seven, Oladipo went to the locker room with under six minutes to play, ending the night with 18 points and four rebounds in 25 minutes.
Luckily, the Heat were able to hold off the Lakers until the end as Butler polished off a 28-point performance.
The Lakers will follow up their Finals rematch with what could very well be a preview of the 2021 Finals when they head to Brooklyn for an 8:30 p.m. ET tip on Saturday against the Nets.
The Heat will head west to face the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday at 10 p.m. ET.