The Lakers had multiple chances to win at the end against the Heat, but their 3-point shooting let them down again, continuing a theme of late.
If there is one thing their two games without him have shown, it’s that the Lakers really need Dennis Schröder. It turns out that without him and Anthony Davis, the Lakers don’t really have any NBA-level primary scorers and/or playmakers beyond LeBron James, an issue that came back to bite them again in a 96-94 loss to the Miami Heat on Saturday night.
The Lakers showed a lot more fight in this one than they did against the Brooklyn Nets, and made an admirable comeback effort in the second half, even retaking the lead at one point during the third quarter and cutting things as close as two points multiple times in the fourth. Wesley Matthews (10 points on 2-7 shooting from deep) had an open three to take the lead with less than 20 seconds to play, but missed it. Jimmy Butler made both free-throws on the other end, and while the Lakers came back and scored before getting a steal that gave Alex Caruso (0 points, 0-2 shooting on threes) another open triple with a chance to win, like so many of his teammates before him on the night, he also missed.
But it wasn’t just the Lakers continuing 3-point shooting woes (28.3% in this game) that hurt them. Their defense was again an issue, with Miami bullying them in the paint without the presence of Davis, outscoring L.A. 52-38 around the rim. There are also signs that this heavy load is beginning to wear on James, as the Heat were able to hound him into 19 points on 7-21 shooting in 37 minutes. The Lakers need to make sure they aren’t overtaxing him over the next two games as Schröder continues to miss time, even if it costs them more victories.
The Lakers are now on a two-game losing streak, and their record has fallen to 22-9 overall. They will have Sunday off to rest — and come up with a few more strategies to minimize their lack of ballhandling and rediscover their shooting rhythm — before hosting the Washington Wizards on Monday. Until then, none of this is going to quiet the roster rumors suddenly swirling around this team.