Heat get past Lakers 112-98, climb over .500 at 18-17

MIAMI (AP) — Jimmy Butler scored 27 points, Bam Adebayo added 23 points and 14 rebounds and the Miami Heat moved over .500 by topping the Los Angeles Lakers 112-98 on Wednesday night.

Tyler Herro had 18 points and nine assists for the Heat (18-17). Caleb Martin scored 13 points and Gabe Vincent added 12.

LeBron James had 27 points, nine rebounds and six assists for the Lakers, playing on the second night of a back to back. Russell Westbrook and Dennis Schroder each had 15 for the Lakers.

Even without point guard Kyle Lowry, who missed the game for personal reasons, the Heat were almost flawless when it came to taking care of the basketball. Through three quarters, they had four turnovers to the Lakers’ 19 — and had a staggering 25-0 edge in points off those turnovers in that span.

The final number off turnovers: Heat 31, Lakers 2. Miami forced 26 turnovers and committed only six.

The Heat led by 22 points at one point, their third-largest margin of the season and the biggest since Oct. 26.

And the 14-point final margin also represented Miami’s third-largest win of the season, though it didn’t come easily at the end.

The Lakers cut the lead to seven late in the fourth, before Herro connected on a left-wing 3-pointer with 2:01 to restore a double-digit lead. Miami got a stop on the Lakers’ next possession, and on the ensuing Heat trip Butler went down the lane for an easy layup with 1:15 remaining and that sealed the win.

“We kept the lead,” Adebayo said. “That was the biggest thing.”

The Lakers fell to 14-21. It’s the second-worst record for any of James’ teams through 35 games; Cleveland started 11-24 in his rookie season of 2003-04.

It was his final game as a 37-year-old; he turns 38 on Friday. James averaged 30.1 points in games played at 37, by far the most in NBA history. Karl Malone averaged 23.2 at 37; that's second-best now.

TIP-INS

Lakers: James played in his 1,393rd game, breaking a tie with Tim Duncan for 10th-most in NBA history. Next up is Jason Terry (1,410). ... Westbrook passed Charles Barkley for 28th place on the NBA’s scoring list. Barkley retired with 23,757 points; Westbrook has 23,767. ... Troy Brown Jr. scored 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting, 4 of 5 on 3-pointers.

Heat: It was Miami’s 54th and final home game of 2022. The Heat went 35-19 in those and won’t be home again until Jan. 8 against Brooklyn. ... Butler also had five steals and four assists, while shooting 11 for 18.

BACK IN MIAMI

It was the 14th time that James had scored at least 27 points in Miami — his former home — as an opponent. He's had at least that many in seven of eight appearances on the Heat home floor since he left the franchise and returned to Cleveland in 2014.

UD RETIREMENT

Udonis Haslem’s No. 50 jersey was retired by Miami High, his alma mater, on Tuesday night in a ceremony that several Heat players, coaches and staff attended. James offered his former teammate congratulations pregame Wednesday about the honor; both will have their jerseys — No. 40 for Haslem, No. 6 for James — retired eventually by the Heat as well.

UP NEXT

Lakers: At Atlanta on Friday night.

Heat: At Denver on Friday night.

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Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press