The Miami Heat got their star big man in Bam Adebayo back, a much-needed boost for a team that was also missing their leading scorer in Goran Dragic.
It was a tense battle throughout the first three quarters, with the teams trading small leads. Neither team got to more than a seven-point advantage.
Heading into the fourth quarter, the LA Lakers held a 75-70 lead, and they had not lost a game (an astounding 55-0 record) where they had led after 36 minutes the entire season.
Tyler Herro hit a big long three, his first of the game, to cut it to 76-75 but then Kelly Olynyk gave Markieff Morris three free throws with 9:34 left. That let the Lakers instantly bring it back to 79-75.
The Lakers had a big scare with under eight minutes in the game, as Alex Caruso accidentally crashed into Anthony Davis. He wasn’t able to get up off the floor and the Lakers were forced to call a timeout after a Heat three made it an 81-78 game.
Davis shook it off to them make it 83-78 for the Lakers, which Duncan Robinson answered with a three to make it 83-81. Jimmy Butler then tied the game at 83.
The Lakers turned on the aggression in the final six minutes of the game, forcing the Heat into the penalty while not committing any fouls of their own.
The Lakers pushed the lead to 95-88 with 2:00 left in the game. Jae Crowder hit a big three to cut it to 91-94 with 1:37 left.
Davis hit a dagger three with 39.5 seconds left to make it 100-91 for the Lakers, effectively putting the game out of reach. It ended 102-96 to give the Lakers a commanding 3-1 lead.
The Lakers got another vintage performance from LeBron James, who had 28 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists. Davis bounced back with 22 points, nine rebounds, four assists, a steal, and four blocks.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope made a lot of big plays, especially in the fourth. His 15 points, three rebounds, and five assists don’t do justice to how big he was for the Lakers.
Butler seemed less aggressive in Game 4 again, passing up a lot of good opportunities in the paint to pass back out. He flirted with another triple-double with 22 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists. However, he really needed to be in attack mode the entire game.
Adebayo had decent production in his return with 15 points and seven rebounds.
Duncan Robinson recovered his stroke a bit, shooting 3 of 6 from the three-point line and all six of his free throws. Herro struggled from the field again, shooting 7 of 17 for his 18 points. Kelly Olynyk, who had been a good scorer the last couple of games, only had four today.
It’s all or nothing in the next game.