By GREG BEACHAM, AP Game writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Although the Miami Heat’s road trip started slowly, Kendrick Noon feels they are picking up steam due to a team chemistry that is growing at every stop.
The Heat almost put it together to win against the NBA champions despite the fourth quarter, which almost went wrong.
The Nuns scored 27 points, Jimmy Butler had 24 points and eight rebounds and Miami captured the NBA Finals Saturday night 96–94 from the Los Angeles Lakers.
Baum Adebayo had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Heat in their first meeting of the teams as the Lakers won the 17th championship with a six-game win over Miami in the Florida Bubble four months ago. The Heat scored just 15 points in the fourth quarter, but they held the Lakers to 17 and hung on when Alex Caruso made a long jump at the buzzer.
“You can tell that the chemistry is building,” said Noon, who hit five 3-pointers. “We have been together for a week and a half, and it gives us a feeling for each other. Now we are moving in the right direction. We dropped a pair early, but we are starting to give ourselves the best chance at the end of the game. “
The win was Miami’s second straight after a three-game skid during a seven-game road trip. The defending Eastern Conference champions (13-17) have been under 500 since January 12, but their confidence is growing.
“We’ve been seeing progress for the last few weeks,” coach Eric Spoelstra said. “I think our defensive mental fortitude was better for getting a few stops in this game when we didn’t hit a few shots in the fourth quarter.”
LeBron James had 19 points, nine assists and nine rebellions as the Chamber lost its second straight game without Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder.
James stole the Heat’s inbound pass with 8.4 seconds remaining to create one last chance for the Lakers, but a 17-time All-Star forced Caruso out of a dual team, missing the 20-minute night Given.
“We’re figuring out how to play without one of our creators at Denise and one of our stars in AD,” Caruso said. “It’s a little time consuming, and obviously we don’t have practice time.”
Davis missed his third straight game after agitating his right calf last weekend, and Schroder missed his second straight under the NBA’s health and safety protocol.
Kyle Kuzma scored 23 points while hitting four 3-pointers, and Montreal Hurl rebounded for 18 and 10 Lakers.
In the absence of injury, the Lakers’ shooting in the last 10 matches has not decreased, including a 39% performance against Miami. La missed five of his last six shots, including a 3-pointer from the Wesley Matthews crowd, with 15 seconds remaining.
“We will continue to work on our habits and be great to each other,” James said. “We all get involved in work, so it is not so. The law of averages itself will also be out. We had laps last season, and during playoffs. We know that they will exclude them during the year as well. “
Heat: Avery Bradley, a starter for the Lakers last season who missed his playoff run after exiting the NBA restart, missed the game for Miami with a calf. … Goran Dragic missed his eighth straight game with a sprained left ankle.
Lakers: Schroder will miss at least two more games in quarantine, coach Frank Vogel said. The Lakers hope to return on Friday against Portland.
Tyler Harrow gave up after playing for less than 14 minutes due to a hip pointer. Spoelstra said he would be reevaluated on Sunday.
“We’re using it,” Spoelstra said of the Heat’s latest injury. “Something is going to happen in every game. It is developing the level of cruelty in our group. “
Max Strauss missed out on eight 3-pointers in place of Heero.
Heat: On Monday at Thunder.
Lakers: Host Wizards on Monday.
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