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Not so fast for Lakers: 5 takeaways from Game 3 loss to Heat

Miami's Jimmy Butler shoots a fadeway jumper against the Lakers during Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Sunday.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

It’s true that a 3-0 series lead has proved to be insurmountable in NBA Finals history. But a 3-1 lead is also nearly impossible to overcome. Only the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers managed it in 2016 against the Golden State Warriors.

That’s what the Lakers are noting in the aftermath of their 115-104 loss to the Miami Heat in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. LeBron James noted that even though the Lakers lost on Sunday, they’ll still be able to take a commanding lead if they win on Tuesday in Game 4, which would put them up 3-1.

The Heat have some other ideas.

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Highlights from the Lakers’ loss to the Miami Heat in Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Sunday.

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Here are five takeaways from Sunday’s game:

1. Everyone assumed Jimmy Butler went to Miami because he wanted to live there. This was also true about LeBron James and Los Angeles, an idea that James has debunked. For Butler the narrative centered around the fact that he left a team in Philadelphia with multiple stars to go to one without them, and it just happened to be a place with beautiful weather and beaches and nightlife. During these playoffs, Butler has refuted that idea. And on Sunday after a Game 3 win, he insisted this isn’t over. “I think LeBron has got the best of me way too many times,” Butler said. “I respect the guy for it, but this is a different time now, a different group of guys that I have around me, and we are here to win, we are here to compete. But we’re not going to lay down, we’re going to fight back in this thing, even it up 2-2.”

2. In part because of two bench players who scored 19 points each, Markieff Morris and Kyle Kuzma, the Lakers reserves scored 53 points, which tied a team postseason high and was the second-highest total for bench during the NBA Finals since 1970-71, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. There are nights when they’ve gotten plenty of help from different role players, but on Sunday those contributions weren’t enough to overcome the struggles from their starters.

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3. The Lakers took 42 three-pointers and only made 14 of them. Kuzma was the most productive, making four of eight from long range. It was the second-most three-pointers attempted by the Lakers in the postseason this year — their highest number of three-point attempts came in Game 2 of the Finals against Miami, when they attempted 47 and made 16. Before Sunday, the three times the Lakers shot the most threes in the playoffs were all games they won.

4. The Lakers made 75.9% of their free throws while the Heat made more than 90%. It didn’t wind up mattering much for the Game 3’s result, but this has been an issue for the Lakers in the bubble. In fact, making 75.9% falls about middle of the road for the Lakers this postseason.

5. The Lakers have thrived when scoring in the paint, but Miami stymied their interior game on Sunday. While they scored 56 points in the paint in Game 2, they were limited to just 34 in Game 3. Miami, meanwhile, scored 52 points in the paint despite not having center Bam Adebayo in their lineup due to his neck strain.

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