Lakers’ Davis, James take advantage against Heat with overwhelming start
Lake Buena Vista, US, Sep 30 (efe-epa).- The Los Angeles Lakers could not have gotten a better start in their return to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010 on Wednesday with an easy 116-98 victory against the decimated Miami Heat, in the first game of the best-of-seven series.
As expected, the combination of center Anthony Davis and forward LeBron James, who contributed 59 points, was the key that kept the game under the control of the Lakers, who returned to an NBA Finals for the first time since 2010.
Davis, who had 34 points, nine rebounds and five assists, was the leader of the Lakers’ balanced attack, which had five players with double-digit numbers, in what was their first game in an NBA Finals.
While James, who disputes the tenths in his professional career, and seeks his fourth league title, was on the verge of a triple-double after contributing 25 points 13 rebounds -12 defensively-, and distributed nine assists.
Guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 13 points, forward Danny Green had 11 and reserve point guard Alex Caruso finished with another 10 points.
The Lakers wasted no time proving they were the best on-court team in Orlando’s bubble by dominating on both sides of the field and in every facet of the game.
The message was very clear from the stars James and Davis and it was none other than that they are ready not only to get the title but to secure it as soon as possible.
In addition, James had the satisfaction of seeing that a first game of the NBA Finals was comfortable for him and also with victory, the second he has had in the 10 he has already played (2-8), after he had suffered seven consecutive defeats.
While the Heat had forward Jimmy Butler with 23 points and five assists as their top scorer he was the only one who could compete at the same level as the NBA stars, the rest disappeared.
Butler, despite having discomfort in his left ankle, which he twisted in the last minutes of the first half, remained in the fight, but could not cope alone with the offensive power of the Lakers, who also dominated within the area and the inside game by capturing 54 rebounds compared to just 36 for the Heat, who suffered major injuries.
The Miami team lost Slovenian point guard Goran Dragic at half-time when he injured his left foot, while star center Bam Adebayo also had to go to the locker room in the third period as the discomfort he was dragging on his left shoulder worsened.
Backup point guard rookie Kendrick Nunn scored 18 points as the Heat’s second leading scorer, while guard Tyler Herro, also a first-year NBA player, reached 14 and forward Jae Crowder scored 12 more.
Adebayo was limited to eight points in 21 minutes, and Miami went with substitutes for a fourth-quarter explosion that turned an outright loss only slightly more palatable, at least in terms of final points margin.
The Lakers always imposed the rhythm of the game and came to have a partial advantage of up to 32 points and finished the game with 15 triples, something unusual with the Los Angeles team that doesn’t use shots from outside the perimeter as its first offensive option.
But when they overcome the barrier of 14 triples, so far this season they have a winning record of 21-3.
The only competitive stretch of the game that gave the Heat hope for what they could do in the series came in the first six minutes, when the Miami team scored on six straight possessions in what became a 13-minute streak to take a partial 23-10 lead midway through the opening period.
But there the good game and the dominance of the Heat ended, who are in their sixth NBA Finals, the first since 2014, when James himself played with them and lost them to the San Antonio Spurs (1-4).
The rest of the way in the first half was a complete walk for the Lakers with a partial 55-25 and 65-48 at halftime.
And if things weren’t bad enough for Miami already, the Heat confirmed in the middle that Dragic, playing in his first game of an NBA Finals, could not continue because of the injury he suffered to his left foot.
The Lakers, with everything in their favor, began the third period with another 18-3 streak and the exhibition was already guaranteed, as was the victory.