Lakers beat Heat 102-96, take 3-1 lead in NBA Finals

LA Times: “In Game 4 of the NBA Finals, the Lakers found a way. They had just enough to come out ahead 102-96 and take a 3-1 series lead over the Heat in the best-of-seven series and are now one win away from securing the franchise’s 17th championship. James led the Lakers, scoring 28 points, eight assists and 12 rebounds, while Davis scored 22 points, with four assists and nine rebounds, distinguishing himself with his stifling defense on Miami star Jimmy Butler. James and Davis each made eight of 16 shots attempted. The importance of this game wasn’t lost on the Lakers. They were on edge after their Game 3 loss Sunday, unhappy with how that game unfolded. Just in case, James wanted them to know just how important it was to him.”

Miami Herald: “Lakers All-Star forward LeBron James seemed to control the second half of Game 4, with 20 points on 5-of-8 shooting, nine rebounds and four assists during the final two quarters. He scored only eight points on 3-of-8 shooting in the first half. James finished Los Angeles’ victory with 28 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists and six turnovers. Five of his six turnovers came in the first half. The Lakers’ second star was also very good in Game 4. Big man Anthony Davis recorded 22 points, nine rebounds, four assists and four blocks in the win. Davis and James combined for 34 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and three blocks in the second half.”

Miami Herald: Heat All-Star wing Jimmy Butler followed up his historic 40-point Game 3 triple-double performance by almost picking up another triple-double. He finished Tuesday’s loss with 22 points on 8-of-17 shooting, 10 rebounds, nine assists and three steals, as the Lakers used Davis and James to defend Butler for most of the game.

Miami Herald: “Adebayo was relatively effective in his return Tuesday, finishing with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting, seven rebounds and one assist in 33 minutes. On the defensive end, Adebayo took on the challenge of guarding Davis during stretches. But Adebayo was quiet in the fourth quarter, with two points on one shot, one rebound and zero assists in the period.”

Miami Herald: “This is the Heat team that steamrolled Indiana in the first round of the playoffs and then eliminated Giannis Antetokounmpo and No. 1 seed Milwaukee in the second. The Lakers with LeBron and A.D. were supposed to dominate fifth-seeded Miami, which didn’t even make the playoffs the year before. And that was before starters and key players Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic were lost to injuries in the series. Dragic remains out with a foot injury, tearfully, as he described it Tuesday. Adebayo played well in his return, though surely not 100 percent.”

OC Register: KCP, as he’s known to Laker Nation’s resident fans and critics, finished with 15 points on 6-for-12 shooting. That offensive production included a couple of big buckets late that helped L.A. wrestle a hard-fought victory away from the Miami Heat in the bubble at Lake Buena Vista, Florida. With the Lakers leading only 90-88 and about 3 minutes left, Caldwell-Pope sprinted to the corner in transition, ready and awaiting LeBron James’ pass, which he caught, shot and converted for one of his three corner 3-pointers of the night. “That’s really one of my specialties,” Caldwell-Pope said. “I’m always running from end to end, corner to corner.” Moments later, Caldwell-Pope let the Lakers breathe yet easier when he got Duncan Robinson to bite on a fake at the top of the key, blew past the Heat guard and flew all the way to the rim for a soaring and sensationally timed layup off the backboard that made it 95-88 with 2:02 to go.

OC Register: With two minutes left in the fourth game of the NBA Finals, Caldwell-Pope found himself with the ball and Miami’s Duncan Robinson guarding him. That invited Caldwell-Pope to burst to the bucket and put the Lakers up by seven, and then Davis and Rajon Rondo expanded that cushion. The Lakers now lead, 3-1, with this 102-96 win. Like the steamfitters and stampers and fabricators that they resembled, they took a shower after they worked. “We don’t really have a third scorer,” Kyle Kuzma said, after he and the rest of the Laker bench outscored Miami’s reserves 27-14 and had 14 rebounds. “Our scorers are AD and LeBron, and then the rest of us play team basketball. Any of us can step up at any time.”

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