The Los Angeles Lakers overcame a 14-point third-quarter deficit to briefly lead in the fourth quarter, but fell victim to cold shooting and turnovers down the stretch in a 115-104 loss to the shorthanded Miami Heat Sunday evening in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.
An 8-0 run that began with back-to-back 3-point baskets by Markieff Morris and ended with Rajon Rondo’s layup gave the Lakers a 91-89 lead with eight minutes, 55 seconds to play.
The Heat responded with an 8-0 run on Jimmy Butler’s 11-foot floating shot and 3-point baskets by Kelly Olynyk and Tyler Herro for a 97-91 lead with 7:03 remaining.
The Lakers ended the run with a 3-point basket by Kyle Kuzma, but were then outscored 6-1 on layups by Olynyk and Herro and Butler’s 11-foot turnaround fadeaway shot and trailed 103-95 with 3:48 left.
Morris’ 3-point basket cut the deficit to 105-100 with 2:11 to play, but the Lakers were unable to get any closer.
Butler made two baskets and a driving 8-foot floating bank shot, Herro a 3-point play on a driving finger roll layup and Duncan Robinson a 3-point basket in the final 1:47, while the Lakers were held to a dunk by LeBron James and Kuzma’s 3-foot driving floating bank shot.
After taking their final lead, the Lakers committed five of their 20 turnovers, including four by James, and made four of 13 shots, including two of eight 3-point attempts.
The Lakers turnover total was one more than their combined total for the first two games of the series. James committed eight of their turnovers Sunday.
Butler scored 40 points and had 13 assists and 11 rebounds as Miami cut the deficit in the best-of-seven series to two games to one.
Game 4 of the best-of-seven series is scheduled for Tuesday. The entire NBA postseason is being played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
James had 25 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, all team highs. Kuzma and Morris both added 19 off the bench. Anthony Davis, limited to 32:58 of playing time, scored 15 points. The Lakers were outscored by 25 when he was on the court.
Herro and Olynyk each added 17. Robinson had the Heat’s best plus-minus, at plus-27, while forward Jae Crowder was at plus-21 and Butler at plus-20.
Morris had the Lakers best plus-minus at plus-10.
One game after becoming the third team to record a “50-40-90” game in the NBA Finals, making at least 50% of its shots, 40% of its 3-point shots and 90% of its free throws, Miami made 51.2% of its shots (41 of 80), 35.3% of its 3-point shots (12 of 34) and 91.3% of its free throws (21 of 23).
The Lakers made 34 of 79 shots (43%), 14 of 42 3-point shots (33.3%) and 22 of 29 free throws (75.9%).
The Lakers led in rebounding, 43-37, the third consecutive game they led in that category.
The Heat led 58-54 at halftime and scored the first 10 points of the second half, taking their biggest lead, 68-54, with 8:33 left in the third quarter. The Lakers responded with eight consecutive points, cutting the deficit to 68-62 with 6:12 to play in the quarter.
Miami built the lead back to 12, 83-71, with 2:10 left in the quarter. The Lakers closed the quarter with a 9-2 run on Davis’ two baskets, Kuzma’s 3-point basket and James’ layup, pulling to within five, 85-80, entering the fourth quarter.
For the second consecutive game, the Heat played without two starters — point guard Goran Dragic and center Bam Adebayo.
“They both are making progress,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said before the game. “They’re not ready to play or compete in this game at this intensity level. But they really want to be there because they love their teammates and they have put their heart and soul into this.”
Dragic tore the plantar fascia ligament in his left foot in the second quarter of the Heat’s 116-98 loss in Game 1 Wednesday. An MRI revealed Adebayo has a neck strain on his left side, the team announced Thursday.
History remains on the Lakers’ side in their pursuit of their 17th championship, which would tie the Boston Celtics for the all-time lead. Teams with a two-games-to-one lead in the finals have won 48 of 59 times, 81.4%.