The Miami Heat have pipped the Los Angeles Lakers 96-94 in the first meeting between last season’s NBA Finals teams since the Lakers won the title in Game Six in the Florida bubble four months ago.
Kendrick Nunn scored 27 points, Jimmy Butler had 24 points and eight rebounds and Bam Adebayo had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Heat as they triumphed on the undermanned Lakers’ home court on Saturday night.
LeBron James had 19 points, nine assists and nine rebounds for the Lakers as the defending champions lost their second straight game without starters Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder.
James stole the Heat’s inbounds pass with 8.4 seconds left to create one last chance for the Lakers, but the 17-time All-Star passed off to Alex Caruso, who missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The Heat scored only 15 points in the fourth quarter and barely held off Los Angeles down the stretch for their second straight win after a three-game skid during their seven-game road trip.
Los Angeles also lost back-to-back games for the first time since January 27-28, falling to East contenders Brooklyn and Miami at Staples Center.
Davis missed his third straight game after aggravating his strained right calf last weekend, and Schroder missed his second straight under the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
Kyle Kuzma scored 23 points while hitting four 3-pointers, and Montrezl Harrell had 18 points and 10 rebounds as the Lakers took their third loss in 11 games.