Jimmy Butler had promised a Heat victory in Friday’s Game 2. What we got was another Lakers laugher — and nut-cutting time for the Miami.
A dominant performance by Anthony Davis and all-around effort by LeBron James carried the Lakers to a 124-114 victory in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. It spotted them to a 2-0 Finals lead, and — considering how lopsided this series has looked — could have them halfway to a sweep.
“You’re talking about adversity. I mean, for us, we thrive in that,” Butler said before the game. “Nobody picked us to be here. Like I said, we embrace it. We love it.
“Coming into Game 2, all the adversity, backs against the wall, yadda, yadda, yadda. We’re going to win.”
They didn’t come close, despite Butler’s best efforts. Because James and Davis were that much better.
James flirted with a triple-double (33 points, nine assists, nine rebounds). And Davis followed up his 34 points from Wednesday with an even better encore. He had 32 points on 15 of 20 shooting, and snatched 14 rebounds. His 66 points are the third-highest total after a players’ first two NBA Finals appearances.
“It’s a great team that we’re playing. We understand that they put you in some really tough positions,” James said. “I’m looking forward to looking at film to see how we can be better — because we can be.
“It never gets old being on this stage. This is what I work my tail off, to play in June, July October. … I just try to take full advantage of it.”
They’re in that position because they tore apart Miami’s zone from the inside. The Heat played shorthanded without Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic, and the Lakers outlasted Butler (25 points) and Kelly Olynyk (24 points).
But most of all, James has the first 2-0 Finals lead of his career because the Heat couldn’t stop them.
The Lakers missed their first five 3-pointers and still led 14-13 early. But when James finally broke through, it sparked an 8-1 run that put them up by eight.
It was still eight when James gave up his body to take a charge on Tyler Herro, forcing a second straight Heat turnover. On the other end, he bullied in on Andre Iguodala for a 37-25 lead 2:32 into the second quarter, and Danny Green’s 3-pointer made it 40-27.
The Lakers largely held Miami at arm’s length from there.
Davis beat a lollygagging Olynek and Herro downcourt for a halfcourt lob, his three-point-play padding the cushion to 64-49 with two minutes left in the half. And Miami simply had no answers whatsoever for him.
Davis’ corner 3 over the outstretched arms of Jae Crowder gave him 22 points in his first 21 minutes, and Los Angeles a 77-62 edge. James’ and-one padded it to 82-64, and Miami never got closer than nine the rest of the way.
The Heat — who long ago built their identity on teamwork and toughness — were bitterly disappointing on both counts. Udonis Haslem — with his three championship rings — lit into them during a third quarter timeout, railing about the non-effort. But it proved a day late and a couple defensive stops short.
Miami shot 66.7 percent in the third quarter, getting nine points from Olynyk and eight from Butler and Herro. But they could get no closer than 100-91 on the latter’s free throws with 37.2 seconds left in the third, and again at 108-99 early in the fourth.
James and Davis, a pair of superstar alpha males, work because neither has succumbed to pettiness or envy. But the young big man did say he’s jealous of one thing King James has. Or three things, to be more accurate.
“That he has a ring. But he made a promise to me, and so far he’s kept it. Hopefully I don’t have to be envious of that much longer,” Davis said. “I want a ring, and he has three of them. That would be the one thing for sure that I would be jealous about.”
Davis is halfway there.
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