On Sunday in South Beach, the Los Angeles Lakers were unable to play 48 minutes of basketball against the Miami Heat. LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and the Miami Heat extended their winning streak to five games after putting the Lakers away 107-97.
The Lakers played well and gave themselves a chance. Ultimately, Los Angeles lost Sunday’s game because they got stuck playing isolation basketball, committed too many turnovers, and failed to clean up the defensive glass when it mattered most.
With 14 minutes remaining in the game, the Lakers were tied at 71.
Over the next two minutes, the Lakers gave up four offensive rebounds to enter the fourth quarter down by five points.
Down by five and on the road, the Lakers needed to clean up the boards and play a near-perfect 12 minutes against the defending champions.The Lakers did not allow the Heat to pull down a single offensive rebound, but eight fourth quarter turnovers sealed their fate.
Predictably, the Heat created more and more separation with every Lakers’ mistake until the final two minutes were a slow march to the grave LA had dug for itself.
Offensively, the Lakers had some bright spots. LA shot 50 percent from the field, 58 percent from behind the arc, and managed to spread the shots around. Kobe Bryant finished with 28 points, Earl Clark had 18, and both Steve Nash and Dwight Howard added 15 points.
Although Bryant was passing the ball and collected a game-high nine assists, he was playing far too much isolation basketball. Nash was the only other player on the team to record more than one assist (2), as the Lakers assisted on only 16 of 35 field goals.
The ball was not moving fluidly—partially a result of Pau Gasol’s absence.
When in isolation, Bryant and Howard were constantly stifled by Miami’s defense late in the game, and the duo committed five of the Lakers’ eight fourth quarter turnovers.
The loss in Miami was not shocking, as the Lakers were massive underdogs, but the Lakers’ played well for 34 minutes. Unfortunately, the game is 48 minutes long.
After playing eight games in the last 13 days (including seven on the road), the Lakers finally head home. The Grammy trip is over, and the Lakers still managed a winning 4-3 record, but losing Gasol may be proving a more significant loss with regards to ball movement than most anyone could have predicted.
"Pau’s injury was a big setback on this trip,“ Bryant said when asked to assess the Grammy trip. “Felt like this trip could have been a little bit more successful. We let that one get away in Phoenix, though.”