No one expected the Miami Heat to quit, heavy underdogs that they were.
They came into the playoffs as the fifth seed, shocked the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks, outlasted the Boston Celtics and forced their way into an NBA Finals they beat long odds to make.
So even though Miami lost two starters to injury in Game 1, the Lakers expected a fight.
Game 2 was that, but the Lakers prevailed, beating the Heat 124-114. LeBron James finished with 33 points and Anthony Davis scored 32. Jimmy Butler led the Heat with 25, while Kelly Olynyk scored 24 off the bench.
The Lakers need two more wins to become NBA champions for the first time in a decade.
The game offered a throwback to an age when the three-pointer didn’t rule. The Lakers started the game cold from three-point range and never quite found their rhythm, with their starters making seven of 28 three-point attempts. Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope combined to go three of 19 from beyond the arc.
In the day between Games 1 and 2, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra felt like he was playing the role of parent with his two starters who couldn’t play in Game 2 due to injuries. Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo could only watch as the Lakers took apart their teammates.
This time the dismantling was slow and steady. The Lakers led by six points after one quarter despite only making three of 12 three-point attempts, after their hot shooting from deep in Game 1 helped them pull away.
In Game 2, the Lakers made their mark from closer range. They made 22 of their first 25 two-pointers, led by Davis, whose jumper was nearly unstoppable. Davis made 14 of his first 15 shots, and became the focus of Miami’s defensive efforts as the game progressed.
The Lakers led by 18 points in the third quarter, and still the Heat pushed back, pulling to within nine near the end of the third quarter with a pair of free throws by Tyler Herro. Miami stayed irritatingly close, within about 10 points.
There were two scoring droughts for the Lakers in the fourth quarter – a four-minute span early in the period and a two-minute gap in the latter half. The good news, though, for the Lakers, was that they kept the Heat at bay during those times as well.