NBA: Butler scores 24, Nunn 27 as Miami edge out slumping Lakers in finals rematch

Kyle Kuzma puts up a shot over Kendrick Nunn during the second quarter at Staples Center, Los Angeles, on Feb 20, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (AFP, REUTERS) - Jimmy Butler and Kendrick Nunn combined for 51 points, as the Miami Heat defeated reigning league champions the Los Angeles Lakers 96-94 on Saturday (Feb 20), in a rematch of last season's NBA Finals.

Nunn finished with 27 points and Butler had 24 and eight rebounds for the Heat, who have won six of their last nine contests.

Bam Adebayo tallied 16 points and 10 rebounds and Duncan Robinson added 11 points with 10 rebounds.

This was the first meeting between the two teams since the Lakers defeated the Heat 4-2 for their record-equalling 17th league crown in October in Orlando, Florida.

The Lakers have now lost three of their last four games.

They were without injured all-star forward Anthony Davis, who sat out his fourth straight game with a right Achilles tendon injury, and guard Dennis Schroder, who missed his second straight game due to the National Basketball Association's Covid-19 restrictions.

The Lakers got 19 points from 36-year-old LeBron James, who shot just seven of 21 from the floor.

Kyle Kuzma had 23 points, Montrezl Harrell finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 11 points.

After both teams struggled to score in the fourth, Butler made two clutch free throws with 12 seconds left.

Miami led by as much as 15 points in the first half and by half-time were ahead 59-52.

The Lakers took a 66-63 lead in the third before the Heat jolted back to life and went on a 13-0 surge for a 76-66 lead with just over three minutes left in the quarter.

Elsewhere, Terry Rozier hit the game winner at the buzzer, capping a game-high 36-point performance as the Charlotte Hornets returned from an unexpected break to beat the Golden State Warriors 102-100.

The Hornets had not played since Valentine's Day after two games were postponed because of coronavirus measures.

Rozier shot eight-for-11 on three pointers and finished with his fourth consecutive 30-point outing.

P.J. Washington scored 15 points and Miles Bridges had 10 for the Hornets, who shot 20-for-40 on threes and outscored the Warriors 60-39 from three-point range.

Kelly Oubre had 25 points to pace the Warriors, who were missing all-star Stephen Curry and lost for a second straight game.

Andrew Wiggins had 19 points, Eric Paschall 16, and Damion Lee tallied 14 for Golden State.

Curry was on the floor for the warm-up but returned to the dressing room shortly before the tip-off. The Warriors said the league's third-leading scorer was not feeling well.

Meanwhile, Bradley Beal recorded 37 points and seven rebounds to lead Washington past hosts Portland 118-111 to extend its season-best winning streak to four games.

Russell Westbrook recorded 27 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds for his eighth triple-double of the season. Rui Hachimura had 17 points, seven rebounds and three steals and Robin Lopez contributed 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Wizards.

Damian Lillard scored 29 of his 35 points in the second half and had 12 assists for Portland, who saw their season-high six-game winning streak halted.

In other games, Zach LaVine scored 38 points and Coby White chipped in 19 to pace six players in double figures as hosts Chicago sent Sacramento to their sixth straight defeat with a 122-114 win, while Devin Booker scored a game-high 23 points and Mikal Bridges was one of three Phoenix players to finish with 19 points and the visitors routed shorthanded Memphis 128-97.

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