The Los Angeles Lakers won their seventh straight game on Friday topping the Miami heat 95-80. Although the team was led by offensive stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis who combined for a total of 51 points, the defensive play made all the difference holding the Heat to only 80 points.
“One thing about it — if your offense is behind your defense, you’re a really, really good team,” LeBron James said. “And I’m OK with that right now.”
As Paul Kasibian of Bleacher Report reveals, Anthony Davis completed the game with 26 points on 11-of-17 shooting alongside eight rebounds, seven assists. He also helped the Lakers dominate the boards with a 48-37 differential. James followed with 25 points, four rebounds, and six assists.
The Heat had cut a 14-point deficit in the third quarter to 78-71 in the fourth. James then retaliated by scoring the next six points for the Lakers. He finished the night with back-to-back three-pointers with 1:18 left on the clock as fans around the arena gave him a standing ovation.
On the other side, Miami was led by Jimmy Butler, who put up 22 points after scoring 34 in his previous game. Heat backup point guard Goran Dragic added 19 points off the bench but that wasn’t enough to top the Lakers. The Heat who were playing on a short rest after beating the Phoenix Suns 124-108 the previous night, had their lowest-scoring and poorest-shooting game of the season.
As Kyle Goon of the OCRegister reports, Coach Frank Vogel revealed internal analytics showed the Lakers had contested 88 percent of the Heat’s shots, keeping the top 3-point-shooting team in the NBA to just 17 percent (6 for 35) from behind the arc.
According to ESPN following the win, Davis stated “It’s our way”… “We want to be a good defensive team. That team scores, I think, 115 (points) or something a game. We knew they were coming off a back-to-back, and we just wanted them to make them make shots. They had looks they missed. For the most part, we wanted to run them off the line.”
James Makes History Once Again
James became the third player in NBA history to score 20 points in 1,000 career games. He had already become the player with the third most 20 point games of all time when he passed Lakers legend Kobe Bryant to reach the 942 mark late in the 2017-18 season. He now joins Lakers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1,122) and Utah Jazz Karl Malone (1,134) as the only three players to reach this accomplishment. This season James has been meeting milestones, he recently became the first Laker player to record three straight triple-doubles since Magic Johnson in 1987.
At the moment in time, LeBron and Lakers believe that they can slow down anyone.
“We’re going to hang our hats defensively until our offense catches up with us,” James said. “And it’s going to be one of those games where our offense will catch up and it will be scary. But until then, we got to intimidate people on the defensive end and make our mark there.”
The Lakers take on the reigning champions the Toronto Raptors next as they try and tie their longest win streak since the 2010-11 season on Sunday.