LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The Lakers’ Anthony Davis and Miami’s Jae Crowder both ended up on the floor midway through the third quarter of Game 5 of the NBA Finals. As Davis scrambled to get back to his feet, his right elbow swung out toward Crowder’s face.
Crowder wasn’t fazed.
The moment epitomized how Friday went: The Los Angeles Lakers, even when they got within a few seconds of winning a championship, couldn’t knock out the Miami Heat. LeBron James was brilliant for the Lakers with 40 points, Jimmy Butler was as brilliant if not more so for the Heat with a 35-point triple double, and Miami survived to send the title series to Game 6 on Sunday.
“We ain’t backing down,” Butler said. “We ain’t shying away.”
Everything still favors the Lakers. They lead the series 3-2. James hasn’t been part of losing two potential close-out games in the same series since 2006, his first postseason year. The Heat still don’t have starting point guard Goran Dragic because of a foot injury, a torn left plantar fascia.
They are most undeterred.
“Everybody counted us out since the beginning of the playoffs," Heat rookie guard Tyler Herro said. “We don’t really care what people have to say."
Miami kept finding ways in Game 5 to keep the series — and its season — alive, then caught a break in the final seconds when the Lakers’ Danny Green missed a wide-open 3 that could have delivered the NBA title and Markieff Morris threw the ball away after the offensive rebound.