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Anthony Davis, LeBron James lead Lakers to dominating win over Heat in NBA Finals opener

By Tania Ganguli, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Basketball

ORLANDO, Fla. - LeBron James likes to say that sometimes two points are more than two points, when the score comes in an emphatic and demoralizing fashion.

It remains to be seen if what the Los Angeles Lakers did to the Miami Heat on Wednesday night in Orlando will have a similar impact on the NBA Finals. Can one win in a best-of-seven have an impact bigger than that?

The Lakers took an early blow from the Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, and then unleashed their power and fury on the Eastern Conference's offering to win 116-98. They had a 30-point lead in the third quarter, and that lead never shrunk to fewer than 15 after that. LeBron James scored 25 points with 13 rebounds and nine assists, Anthony Davis scored 34 points with nine rebounds and five assists. Rajon Rondo and Alex Caruso had plus/minus ratings of positive 20 in the first half.

They exposed Miami's defense, shot better than they had for most of their time in the bubble and rode Davis' presence inside to total domination.

The Heat did not fully surrender, but they had too much ground to make up for their efforts in the fourth quarter to make much of a difference.

This game did not seem headed for a blowout in the first quarter. With former President Barack Obama and several Lakers dignitaries among the virtual fans at midcourt, the Heat went step for step with the Lakers behind efficient shooting and a zone defense that worked for a time.

Miami took a 13-point lead, which was all it took for the Lakers to wake up.

From that point on, the Lakers outscored Miami by 30 points until the half, 55-25. The Lakers took their first lead in the final five seconds of the first quarter, and then dominated the rest of the game.

 

With 1:23 left in the game, the Lakers had a 17-point lead and substituted in Jared Dudley, Quinn Cook and JR Smith. James sat on the bench covered in towels, then got up to shake hands with each of his teammates as the clock expired.

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Three takeaways

1. The Lakers entered the Finals having shot 35.5% from three-point range in the playoffs, but they thrived from three-point range in the first half, making 11 of 17 three-pointers (64.7%).

2. Miami star Jimmy Butler turned his ankle and appeared to be in severe pain just before halftime, but he never missed time in the game because of it. What could be a bigger problem for the Heat from here on is the status of guard Goran Dragic, who did not play in the second half due to a foot injury.

3. The Lakers exploited their size and length advantage on the boards, outrebounding the Heat 54-36.

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