The Los Angeles Lakers hosted the Miami Heat on Friday night, looking for their seventh straight victory. The Heat were sitting pretty at 6-2, 2nd in the Eastern Conference, looking to keep hot as well.

I ranked the Lakers #1 in this week’s Power Rankings, as they’ve been steamrolling over opponents for a six-game win streak heading into this matchup. The Heat came in at #7, already exceeding my expectations for how good they would be in the Jimmy Butler era.

I tuned in to the game early in the second quarter, with a give-and-go dunk from Alex Caruso to LeBron James put the Lakers up 30-24. The Lakers offense was playing creative, high-energy basektball. Dwight Howard whiffed an alley-oop attempt, but the Lakers were finding all kinds of ways to score.

Kendrick Nunn made a fast-break layup for the Heat to give them a 40-29 lead late in the 2nd quarter, Miami’s first lead of the game. On the other end of the floor, Davis connected with Howard for a bucket in the paint to regain the lead.

This would lead to some back-and-forth action before the half, highlighted by some sloppy play and poor shooting.

Davis was eating in the first half, with 16 points on 7-8 FG and 2-2 FT in the first half, also impacting the game with 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. It was a solid bounce-back from a so-so outing in Chicago.

Those two free throws Davis hit? They were Los Angeles’ only attempts and makes of the half. By comparison, the Heat went 13 of 15 at the line. The Lakers had the lead, but it could’ve been much bigger if they didn’t send Miami to the line so many times in the first half.

Butler led the Heat with 11 points on 3-8 FG, but put up some ugly shots in the second quarter. In the first half, the Lakers limited the Heat to 38% from the field. Los Angeles shot just a little better, connecting on 44% of their attempts.

James had a quiet first half, with 5 points (2-7 FG), 4 assists, and 1 rebound. The assists continue to rack up for James, who came into the night with a comfortable lead on the assists per game leaderboard over Luka Doncic.

LeBron clowned the Heat defense with this move and dunk in the third quarter:

Later in the quarter, James drilled a three to give the Lakers an 11-point lead, their largest of the game so far (66-55.)

Miami’s zone defense worked at times, but too often was getting exposed by good passing and cutting. Even decent passing and cutting seemed to be too much for the Heat to defend in the third quarter.

The Lakers ended the third quarter with a 78-66 lead. James came alive in that third period, adding 8 points, 2 assists, and a rebound. Davis had 8 points himself to raise his total to 24 points.

The Lakers led the entire second half, but really pulled away in the fourth quarter as James went on a tear, scoring 12 of 14 points for his team, including back-to-back threes, for a 92-77 lead with 2 minutes left to play.

Los Angeles improved to 7-1 with their 7th straight win. Since their opening night loss to the Clippers, they’ve been demolishing anyone in their path.

LeBron’s triple double streak ends at three games, but he totaled 25 points (20 in the second half,) 6 assists, and 4 rebounds for a solid night. Davis came closer to a triple double, tallying 26 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists.

The Lakers won despite the Heat making 11 more free throws: Miami was 18-24 while the Lakers were 7-8.

For the Heat, Butler led the way with 22 points, but on just 7-16 FG. Miami was outscored by 13 points when he was on the floor.

80 points allowed was a season-best for the Lakers defense. They look for their 8th straight win on Sunday against the Toronto Raptors.

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Header Photo acquired via forumblueandgold.com

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