Coming off a much-needed win over the Orlando Magic on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Lakers headed to FTX Arena to take on the Miami Heat.
What the Lakers badly need, especially without the injured Anthony Davis, is wins in bunches, and they were unable to start a winning streak on Wednesday.
What killed them the most was their 24 turnovers, which led to 31 Miami points. The Lakers actually outrebounded the Heat 44-37, but they gave up 10 offensive rebounds, which were also a sore spot.
Los Angeles was competitive early, but it started falling behind late in the first quarter and trailed by as many as 22 in the third quarter. The team made a rally in the fourth quarter and came to within seven with four minutes left, but it was too little, too late, as it lost 112-98.
LeBron James: B+/A-
James shot 10-of-18 from the field, and for a change he shot well from 3-point range, going 2-of-5 from that distance, to score 27 points. But he had six turnovers and was ineffective down the stretch.
Was James tired down the stretch? There was a question as to whether he would actually suit up for this contest, given it was the second of a back-to-back set for the Lakers. Give James credit for not making any excuses, but he is carrying a large load just two days shy of his 38th birthday.
Thomas Bryant: A-/A
Bryant played just 23 minutes, as head coach Darvin Ham went with a small lineup in the fourth quarter, possibly in an attempt to up-tempo the game. But when Bryant was on the floor, he did rather well.
He missed just one of his six shots to score 11 points while grabbing eight rebounds and blocking one shot.
Beverley shot just 2-of-7 overall, but he was 2-of-5 from downtown, continuing a positive trend for him over the last few weeks. He also had seven rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block while committing only one turnover.
Dennis Schroder: B+
Schroder played a strong game offensively, and he made a couple of big baskets during the Lakers’ fourth quarter run. He finished with 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting and 2-of-5 from beyond the arc, plus two rebounds and two assists.
Lonnie Walker IV: F
Walker may officially be in a slump right now. He was 3-of-10 on Tuesday, and he missed all four of his shots against Miami, all of which were 3-pointers.
Winning enough games without Davis will take an all-hands-on-deck effort, and Walker will have to be a significant part of that. If he continues to play poorly offensively, it will put a ton of pressure on his teammates, especially James, to take on the type of workload that could tire them out.
Gabriel got the job done offensively, converting on all four of his shot attempts, and he even hit a 3-pointer for the second night in a row.
But LA needed more from him on the boards, as he got just one rebound in 14 minutes.
Troy Brown Jr.: A
For the second game in a row, Brown gave the Lakers a big boost offensively, especially during their second-half rally. He went 4-of-5 from 3-point land and 5-of-6 overall, giving him 14 points, along with four rebounds, in just 21 minutes.
It would be a nice bonus for the team if Brown somehow maintains a 3-point shooting percentage that is at least around the NBA average.
Juan Toscano-Anderson: B+/A-
Toscano-Anderson played his first game since Dec. 7, as he had been out with a sprained ankle. In 13 minutes he did not score a single point, but he provided the Lakers with some physicality and defense, and he ended up with seven rebounds and three assists.
It would be a big help for the team if Toscano-Anderson consistently provides it with what he brought on Wednesday, along with some accurate 3-point shooting.
Russell Westbrook: B-/B
Westbrook got people involved by getting eight assists in 32 minutes, but he went just 6-of-16 from the field, 2-of-7 from downtown and 1-of-3 from the free throw line.
He seems to be turning into the type of player who helps his team even when he isn’t shooting well. But with the slim margin of error the Lakers have, they need him to shoot a respectable percentage most of the time, at least until Davis returns.
This was a rare game where Reaves didn’t help the Lakers in any way. He missed all five of his shot attempts and failed to score a point, and his only statistical contribution from him in 20 minutes was one assist and one steal.