The Los Angeles Lakers took a commanding 2-0 series lead in the NBA Finals Friday night, as they defeated the Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat 124-114 thanks to the performances of forwards Anthony Davis and LeBron James.
The Lakers entered the game with a heavy advantage, as Miami lost two key players in guard Goran Dragic and forward Bam Adebayo to injury. Dragic is currently dealing with a foot injury and Adebayo was diagnosed with a strained neck after Game 1. Both players have been instrumental for Miami all season long.
Los Angeles dominated the Heat in the first half, leading 68-54 by halftime. The Lakers were able to hold steady in the second half, and eventually won by a comfortable 10 points.
The game ended with further speculation as to who could win Finals MVP, as both Davis and James gave MVP-caliber performances.
Davis dominated Miami in the paint, finishing the game with 32 points on 15-for-20 shooting and a staggering 14 rebounds. Eight of his rebounds were offensive, while six came from the defensive end of the floor.
“We came in tonight and said this is a must-win for us,” Davis said in the postgame press conference. “We know what this team is capable of. You know I think they had four and five guys 15-plus … We have to lock in on those guys … and show them respect as well.”
James ended the game with 33 points, contributing seven defensive rebounds and dishing nine assists in the process. James ended shooting 14-for-25 from the field. James and Davis became the first Laker teammates to both score 30-plus in a Finals game since Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal in 2002.
“It’s just very humbling,” said James after the game of the comparisons to Bryant and O’Neal. "I know I grew up watching those guys. I grew up admiring Kobe obviously for you know, kid coming straight out of high school … and obviously the force that Shaq played with so … I’m happy we can even be mentioned with those greats.
Another notable performance came from point guard Rajon Rondo, who ended the night third on the team in scoring with 16 points. Rondo had a solid night with distribution with 10 assists, and was surprisingly good at the 3-point line, hitting three of four attempts from downtown.
Lakers center Dwight Howard, despite only scoring six points, contributed two blocks and continued to be a physical presence down low in the paint. Howard has played a huge role in engineering the Lakers defense all season long, especially in recent playoff series.
As for Miami, forward Kelly Olynyk was a rare bright spot for a very injured squad, scoring 24 points. Star forward Jimmy Butler picked up 25 and had 13 assists. Heat guard Tyler Herro ended with 17 points and was 5-for-12 from the field.
Los Angeles has played solidly for the first two games of the NBA Finals, and with a seemingly comfortable win, analysts and fans alike are speculating that the series could end after just five games. Some have even suggested that a 4-0 series sweep is now indeed a real possibility.
The challenge for the Lakers to close out the series and win championship No. 17 will continue, as Game 3 of the NBA Finals is slated for Sunday at 4:30 p.m.