October 11, 2020 1:08:07 am
The banners were ready to be unfurled, confetti was on the verge of being showered, the Larry O’Brien championship trophy was shown before the game – the NBA was gearing up for a Lakers celebration. But Jimmy Butler produced a season-saving performance for Miami Heat, who stunned Lakers 111-108 in Game 5 of the 2020 NBA Finals at Disney World, Orlando.
To be like Kobe
The Lakers came out in their special commemorative Black Mamba jerseys – a jersey in which they were undefeated in the NBA postseason. Anthony Davis was wearing Kobe’s shoes. LeBron James was 17 of 18 when it came to closing out a game to end a playoff series. The message was loud and clear – this was the night LA were going to win the title for Kobe Bryant.
But the league is littered with players for whom Bryant was nothing short of a god. The most Kobe-esque player in this series has not been a Laker. Instead, it has been Jimmy Butler, whose tireless effort was an embodiment of what Bryant stood for. Butler played for 47 minutes and 22 seconds out of a possible 48. In an elimination game, he scored 35 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, had 11 assists and five steals in his second triple-double of these NBA Finals.
Why did the Lakers lose Game 5?
Lebron James (40 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists) and Anthony Davis (28 points, 12 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 blocks) were a combined 68 points from 24/36 shooting. The rest of the Lakers were a miserly 14/46 on all shots. It’s easy to blame Danny Green for missing a wide-open three in the last seconds of the game. But Lakers’ entire supporting cast faltered around their two giants at some inexcusable moments of the game.
Robinson comes good
In a loaded 2018 NBA Draft, Duncan Robinson went undrafted. Two years later he is in the middle of an NBA Finals series. Robinson dropped seven three-pointers on the Lakers in a 26-point performance, to be the able supporting cast to Jimmy Butler. The start of this series saw him struggle to get his act together, but Butler and Adebayo operating in the paint has allowed the shooter and his quick release to flourish over the past two games. In a must-win Game 5, Robinson was 8-15 from the field and 7-13 from three-point range.
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