Since LeBron James injured his ankle on March 20, the Los Angeles Lakers are scoring just 99.7 points per 100 possessions — the second-worst average in the NBA during that span.
On Thursday night, the Lakers — still without their two superstars in James and Anthony Davis (calf injury) — will be searching for offense as they visit the Miami Heat in a rematch of the 2020 NBA Finals, won by Los Angeles.
The Lakers are 4-6 without James this season and 15-13 without Davis.
Lakers center Andre Drummond, acquired from the Cleveland Cavaliers on March 28, has missed the past three games due to a toe injury, further complicating matters. Drummond, a two-time All-Star who has led the NBA in rebounding in four of the past five years, might be able to play against the Heat.
Without James (25.4 scoring average) and Davis (22.5), the Lakers’ offense usually turns to Dennis Schroder, Montrezl Harrell and Kyle Kuzma. All three are averaging between 12 and 15 points.
In addition, Lakers coach Frank Vogel has taken his team back to school, in a sense, to try to improve its offense.
“We’ve shown a lot of offensive game tape of late,” Vogel said. “We’re focusing on offensive fundamentals.”
In Los Angeles’ most recent win, a 110-101 road victory over the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday, the Lakers improved offensively, shooting 60 percent from the floor in the first half and 49.4 percent for the game. The Lakers also shot 18-for-40 on three-pointers (45.0 percent).
Miami, meanwhile, beat the host Lakers 96-94 on Feb. 20 in their only meeting so far this season. James had 19 points, nine assists and nine rebounds in that game, but the Lakers were without Davis and Schroder.
For Miami in that game, the Heat played without Goran Dragic (sprained left ankle) and lost Tyler Herro after 14 minutes due to a hip pointer.
The Heat, meanwhile, have won four of their past five games, although they lost 124-112 at home to the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday.
Within the past month, the Grizzlies have snapped a Heat five-game win streak and then a Miami four-game run.
“We’re much better than we showed,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said on Tuesday. “It shows how fragile things can be in this league. You’re playing well and …”
Miami is 2-1 since shooting guard Victor Oladipo joined its lineup following a trade with the Houston Rockets. Oladipo, who was averaging 21.2 points with the Rockets, has scored six, eight and 16 points, respectively, in his first three games with Miami.
During that span, Oladipo has made 11-for-35 from the floor. His addition to the lineup has also had an impact on teammate Kendrick Nunn, who has gone from starter to zero playing time over the past three games.
The Heat, who are as healthy as they have been all season, will continue to rely on Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Butler leads Miami in scoring (21.4), assists (7.3) and steals (2.0).
Adebayo is second in scoring (19.2) and assists (5.4) while ranking first in rebounds (9.6) and blocks (1.2).
Herro (15.6), Dragic (13.3) and Duncan Robinson (13.1) add scoring punch along with Oladipo as he makes the adjustment to his new team.
–Field Level Media