MIAMI (AP) — The math isn’t hard. The Miami Heat got a lot of points from turnovers and didn’t give up nearly the entire game.
This is the difference.
Jimmy Butler scored 27 points, Bam Adebayo had 23 points and 14 rebounds, and the Heat beat the Los Angeles Lakers 112-98 on Wednesday night, moving over .500.
Miami led the Lakers 31-2 in turnover scoring despite the absence of point guard Kyle Lowry — who was absent for personal reasons — and committed just six turnovers on 26 turnovers.
“Of course, the ball possession was a big positive tonight,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
LeBron James, who led the Lakers with 27 points, couldn’t agree more — albeit from a different perspective. The turnover resulted in a 92-77 shooting percentage, a number that clearly favored Miami.
“It’s pretty much the game,” James said.
The Lakers trailed 14-21. It was James’ team’s second-worst record in 35 games; Cleveland started 11-24 as a rookie in 2003-04.
“From a team standpoint, I don’t want to end my career playing at this level,” James said. “I hope to still be able to fight for titles because I know I can still bring something to any club with the right kit.”
Tyler Herro had 18 points and nine assists for the Heat (18-17). Caleb Martin scored 13 points and Gabe Vincent had 12 for Miami, which has won six of its past eight games.
James, playing on the second night of back-to-backs, also had nine rebounds and six assists for the Lakers. Russell Westbrook and Dennis Schroder each added 15 points for the Lakers.
The Heat led by as many as 22 points, their third-largest margin of the season and their largest since Oct. 26.
The 14-point final margin also represented Miami’s third-biggest win of the season, though it wasn’t easy in the end.
The Lakers cut their lead to seven late in the fourth quarter before Herro restored a double-digit lead with a 3-pointer from the left wing with 2:01 to go. Miami was blocked on the Lakers’ next possession, and on the Heat’s ensuing trip, Butler made an easy layup with 1:15 left to seal the win.
“We stayed ahead,” Adebayo said. “That’s the most important thing.”
It was James’ last game at age 37; he turns 38 on Friday. James is averaging 30.1 points per game at age 37, by far the most in NBA history. Karl Malone averaged 23.2 points per game at age 37; that’s the second-best right now.
Lakers: James played in his 1,393rd game, tying Tim Duncan for 10th in NBA history. Next up is Jason Terry (1,410). … Westbrook passed Charles Barkley for 28th on the NBA scoring list. Barkley retired with 23,757 points; Westbrook had 23,767. … Troy Brown Jr. scored 15 points on 5-for-6 shooting and 4-for-5 from 3-point range.
Heat: This is Miami’s 54th and final home game of 2022. The Heat lead 35-19 in those games and won’t return to home until Jan. 8 against Brooklyn. … Butler also had five steals and four assists while going 11-for-18 from the field.
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It was the 14th time James has scored at least 27 points against an opponent in his hometown of Miami. Since he left the team and returned to Cleveland in 2014, he’s had at least that many in seven of his eight appearances at home with the Heat.
Udonis Haslem’s No. 50 jersey was retired Tuesday night at his alma mater, Miami High School, in a ceremony attended by several Heat players, coaches and staff. James congratulated his former teammates before the game on Wednesday. Their jerseys — Haslem’s No. 40, James’ No. 6 — will eventually be retired by the Heat, too.
Lakers: At Atlanta on Friday night.
Heat: At Denver on Friday night.
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