LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Over the course of their time in the NBA bubble, some Lakers have mentioned how hard it is to get away from a bad game. Of all the Lakers who had a disappointing night Sunday in their Game 3 loss to the Heat, Anthony Davis is up there with 15…Lakers look for a return to form against Heat in NBA Finals Game 4 — Press Telegram
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Over the course of their time in the NBA bubble, some Lakers have mentioned how hard it is to get away from a bad game.
Of all the Lakers who had a disappointing night Sunday in their Game 3 loss to the Heat, Anthony Davis is up there with 15 points in an unassertive offensive performance. But to an extent, he’s been able to block out the noise.
“Well, the good thing for me I’m not a big social media guy, so I have it but I don’t really be on it,” he said. “A lot of people get caught up in the news and the social media and what everybody is saying. But I don’t really care about it too much.”
Inside their locker room, however, the Lakers took a long look at film on Monday morning. They cost themselves a chance at a sweep, a chance at leaving the Disney campus as early as Wednesday morning, and a chance to crush Miami’s spirit. Instead, their lead is down to 2-1, and the Heat have a chance to bring back the injured Bam Adebayo in Tuesday’s Game 4 depending on the status of his neck strain.
It’s an opportunity missed for the Lakers, who now are staring down the challenge of extending their lead in the Finals or else tie it up. But in their favor is that the Lakers have yet to lose back-to-back games in these playoffs.
LeBron James, who walked off the court early Sunday night in frustration, said having lost once wasn’t exactly a call to urgency for the Lakers — he’s tried to stay in that mode for the entire series.
“Until the series is completed, I kind of stay on edge, stay locked in on the job at hand,” he said. “Obviously, no one wants to ever lose. You hate that feeling, especially when you know you didn’t play your best, and I definitely wasn’t at my best last night from an individual standpoint.”
The mistake James highlighted was 20 team turnovers, eight he gave up himself. Miami scored 17 points off those giveaways. While James called them “careless,” Coach Frank Vogel was careful to give credit to the Heat for making the Lakers work on their ball movement.
“We were careless in some situations, but I think they took four charges throughout the game, they fronted the post, forced us to make difficult post entry passes,” he said. “So a lot of it was their defense, them being active with their hands. This is what they’re great at, and we didn’t handle it well enough.”
The problem for the Lakers is that Adebayo, the All-Star center that Miami has missed for the last two-and-a-half games, could return at any moment. While Adebayo told media that he couldn’t be sure that he will come back for Tuesday’s Game 4, he said he’s been feeling better since the strain in Game 1.
The Lakers have struggled especially with Kelly Olynyk, who scored 24 points in Game 2 and 17 points in Game 3. The Heat look different with Adebayo in the game, particularly allowing them to switch more with Adebayo’s ability to guard every position. But the flip side is that it will give the Lakers a more conventional look to play against, Kyle Kuzma said.
“Obviously when they have him not in there they’re five out, five space shooters, cutters, movement, and it’s challenging to guard,” Kuzma said. “Obviously, he presents his own challenges as well because he’s a great player and an All-Star. But they’re just two different teams when they’re on and off.”
Internally, the Lakers want to focus on their defense. Davis hit upon how there was little communication on screens and switches that allowed the Heat’s frenetic motion — especially when Butler drove — to take advantage of their mix-ups.
“They were setting screens and slipping to the rim without no one guarding them,” he said. “We were over-helping. We were having blown coverages. There was a lot of space on the floor for guys to drive to the basket with no resistance, no help. Guys were hung up on their man. You could tell that we weren’t ourselves defensively.”
After the first two games when James and Davis ran over the Heat with their scoring, the Lakers are looking to get back to that. But James said he didn’t want to go in with a score-first mentality — he tries not to figure out his hand before he has to play it.
“I’ve never gone into a game saying, ‘OK, I need to score 40 tonight, I need to dominate in the scoring facet, things of that nature, I need to make big shots,’” he said. “One thing I’ve always been, I’ve always been prepared. If you’re prepared, then whatever the game — however the course happens, you’re able to make adjustments throughout the game and you’re able to impact the game because you’re prepared and you’ve put in the work. It’s just that simple for me.”
Follow the LABron-era.
Sign up for our Purple and Bold newsletter for the best local insight on the LakersSUBSCRIBE
Get the latest news delivered daily!SUBSCRIBEFollow Us