Bad news for Heat — Lakers have a long track record of bouncing back from losses

Lakers forward LeBron James and Heat star Jimmy Butler exchange some words during Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

All season, the Lakers have prided themselves on their ability to bounce back from losses.

In pre-pandemic times they had only two losing streaks. The first was four games in December that included losses to the Milwaukee Bucks and Clippers, which caused apocalyptic predictions about the Lakers’ future. The other was a two-game streak in January, those losses split by the death of Kobe Bryant.

For most of the season, a loss was followed by a win. That also has been true in the playoffs.


“We’re able to take a loss and understand why we lost,” LeBron James said Monday. “Understand things that we should have done better and things that we can apply to the next game to be better. We’re right back at that moment once again with the opportunity to be better than we were in the game before.

“Look forward to the opportunity tomorrow night.”

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The Lakers face this scenario again Tuesday, two days after they lost to Miami in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, at a time when many had written off the Heat. The Lakers will have a chance to fix what ailed them Sunday and take a 3-1 series lead, which would be almost foolproof. Only the James-led Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 won three in a row to claim a title after trailing 3-1.

“It sucks just because you know if you played well and had done your job, then you possibly could have won the game,” Anthony Davis said Monday. “It always sucks when you lose, and especially when you don’t play well. You know, you look at tape and you try to figure out ways to be better to get prepared for next game.”

Davis did not have the kind of game the Lakers expect from their two superstars. He committed two fouls in the first quarter and spent about five minutes of it on the bench. His foul trouble led to cautiousness, especially defensively, and he never found a rhythm offensively.

Davis scored at least 25 points in all the Lakers’ previous playoff losses. On Sunday, he had 15. Being in the bubble didn’t afford him a chance to get away, but he didn’t want one.

“I want to see my coaches, I want to see my teammates, because I know they’re going to tell me how to get better for next game; prepare me the right way so I don’t have a repeat of last night,” Davis said. “I want to be able to see these guys and talk to them and figure out the game plan for tomorrow night.”


The Lakers won their previous series in five games — one loss per series.

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Oct. 5, 2020

Against Portland, they followed the playoff-opening loss with a 23-point win in Game 2. Against Houston, they followed a Game 1 loss with an eight-point win. Their loss to Denver in the Western Conference finals didn’t come until Game 3, and they won Game 4 by six points two days later.

Each time the Lakers lost, their opponents felt confident they had figured out how to undo them. Each time, though, that wasn’t true.

Now the Lakers have another chance to prove the same thing.

“We’re a championship-level team and I don’t think we played like that in Game 3,” guard Alex Caruso said. “Give credit to the Heat. They played well. They played desperate, they played with a high sense of urgency and played like they were trying to compete in the NBA Finals.

“It’s up to us to correct our mistakes, get back, and then have the confidence that we know we’re a good team.”