LeBron James
(Isaac Baldizon/Getty Images)

Lakers survive the Heat, end Miami's home streak

by Rodrigo Azurmendi
Staff Writer

One winning streak had to end, but the Lakers’ still alive and well.

The purple and gold handed Miami their first home loss of the season, defeating Erik Spoelstra’s squad 113-100 in a riveting duel on Friday night.

This game had it all. Both teams lead by double digits. There were seven lead changes and five ties.

Neither team could get it going from long range in the first half, and then made it rain in the second half.

Even LeBron James’ performance was a tale of two halves, with seven turnovers at intermission and a 9-to-1 assist to turnover ratio the rest of the way.

In the end, the King ruled once again in South Beach:

James was phenomenal in bringing the Lakers back from the abyss created by the Heat’s zone defense and their steady and balanced offense.

But as in so many other occasions this season, he wasn’t alone. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope shone in the second half, not only chasing Miami’s guards around endless picks, but also delivering from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, JaVale McGee had a splendid third quarter, and finished the game with five blocks.

“JaVale in the third quarter changed the complexity of the game,” head coach Frank Vogel said. “It was rim protection and defense, and he was the spark that let us on that run in the third.”

Dwight Howard’s rebounding was instrumental in beating Miami 50-34 in that category. Add that to Alex Caruso’s defense and Jared Dudley’s opportunism – his lone bucket was a big three-pointer in the fourth quarter – and you have the recipe for extending the Lakers’ record away from STAPLES Center to 13-0.

And LeBron, well, he was Miami LeBron. He usually is any time he goes back to the place where he won his first 2 rings.

His range (4-for-8 from downtown) was one of the keys to bringing some normalcy back to an offense that scored 37 in the third quarter.

He also bought the team enough time until Anthony Davis took over. AD was crucial down the stretch, particularly using his length to keep balls alive. The Lakers had an 8-0 edge in second chance points in the fourth, enough to tip the scales in their favor.

Davis’ shooting again was key, and his 23-foot dagger from the left wing went a long way toward securing L.A.’s 23rd win of the season. Oh, and he denied Jimmy Butler the potential game-tying shot.

Moments earlier, the former Pelican had also showed how much in sync he’s already with James, reading this perfectly executed tap and capitalizing in the paint:

“Best finisher, lob-catcher in the game,” said Vogel of Davis.

The Lakers exhibited some issues taking care of the ball (Miami scored 29 points off their 19 turnovers) and once again struggled at the free throw line (15-for-23), but they dug deep and held Miami to 41.5% from the field in the second half.

“We knew it was going to be a dog fight, that's what it was tonight and the game was fun,” Davis said. “These are the types of games we live for.”

Indeed, winning is a lot of fun. On to Atlanta to chase No. 24.

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