Lakers halfway home: Five takeaways from Game 2 win over Heat

Tania Ganguli
ORLANDO, FLORIDA OCTOBER 2, 2020-Lakers Rajon Rondo has the ball knocked away by Heat's Kendrick Nunn, right, but goes out of bounds as Andre Igoudala helps on defense in the 3rd quarter in Game 2 of the NBA FInals in Orlando Friday. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)
Lakers guard Rajon Rondo has the ball knocked away by Miami's Kendrick Nunn, right, while driving to the basket in Game 2. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Two down, two to go for the Lakers.

The Miami Heat were already overmatched in a Game 1 loss before injuries to Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo. They looked even more so at times on Friday in Game 2.At other times, though, the Lakers looked a little discombobulated, playing against a team that looks different without Adebayo.

Here are five takeaways from Friday night’s 124-114 Lakers win, which gave them a 2-0 series lead over the Heat:

1. LeBron James was asked after the game what made him respect coach Frank Vogel and buy into what he wanted to do so quickly. James has clashed with coaches in the past. He recalled Vogel’s Indiana Pacers teams that were a challenging opponent for James’ Cleveland Cavaliers. “So I had that memory of that, just battling those Indiana Pacers teams,” James said. “And then for me, I've always been a coachable player throughout my whole life. I've played for multiple coaches and I've always been a coachable player. So you know, the respect, more importantly, he's the head coach. The head coach should have the respect from all his players, no matter who you are, if you're really serious about trying to make an impact or really trying to do something special. It was just that simple for me personally."

2. If it seemed like the Lakers couldn’t make anything from deep, there’s a reason for that. The Lakers shot 47 three-pointers in Game 2, which set a Finals record. They also didn’t make very many of them — especially not their starters, who went 7 for 28 from three-point range. They made up for it with very efficient scoring on two-pointers.

3. Why did seldom-used guard JR Smith get into the game? That had a little to do with the three-point shooting as well. “Danny [Green] was battling a hip injury, and you know, he and KCP [Kentavious Caldwell-Pope] were playing well, but were struggling a little bit from the perimeter,” Vogel said. “So was just looking to see if we can buy a few minutes with JR because of Danny's injuries, and obviously he carries that threat to knock down a three or a few threes. I just like the threat of him being out there against the zone.”

4. The game didn’t have very much pace or rhythm, which wasn’t necessarily the fault of one group of players over another. Alex Caruso broke down what he thought happened with the second unit. “In that group, we don’t play with a traditional five, either AD [Anthony Davis] or Kieff [Markieff Morris] at the five,” Caruso said. “We try to get deflections and get out running. That’s tough. I think we fouled a little bit too much tonight. We weren’t able to get out on the break and push the pace as much as we’d like, but that’s usually how we like to play in the second unit. Getting steals, getting rebounds and getting out and running. We have four or five guys who can all dribble, pass, shoot and space the floor.”

5. The Lakers were impressive in the paint, which started with Dwight Howard’s play at the beginning of the game. Howard was too much for Meyers Leonard, whom the Heat started with Adebayo unable to play. The Lakers scored 56 points in the paint and their shooting percentage from close range was 74%.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.