LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Los Angeles Lakers — sporting the Black Mamba uniforms designed by the late Kobe Bryant that were undefeated in the postseason— intended to finish off the Miami Heat on Friday night in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
Anthony Davis laced up trophy gold Nike “5 Rings” Kobe 5 prototype shoes for the clash. If the game were poker, the Lakers were going all in.
Miami had other plans.
“You’re hearing how they’re putting the black jerseys on and sh-- and how they haven’t lost a game in those and people start talking about that. That is motivation, and it's always going to get under your skin a little bit,” Heat forward Jae Crowder told Yahoo Sports after Miami spoiled L.A.’s celebration plans with a 111-108 victory. “You obviously funnel that in the right direction and use it as motivation and it definitely helped tonight.”
Jimmy Butler, as he did in Game 3, willed his team to victory with 35 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists and five steals. He played all but one minute of Game 5.
“I left it all out there on the floor along with my guys, and that's how we're going to have to play from here on out,” Butler said. “Like I always say, it's win or win for us. But this is the position that we're in. We like it this way. We got two more in a row to get.”
The Lakers had made arrangements to celebrate at Three Bridges Bar & Grill, a popular dining establishment located on an island in the heart of a lake at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.
“They’re a great team and they’ve proven that. You have to respect them," Heat center Meyers Leonard told Yahoo Sports. "I wasn’t aware of what they planned to do had they won, but we’re just a team that’s not willing to go home right now.”
The Heat also spoiled LeBron James’ brilliant performance of 40 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and three steals. James was a lock to receive his fourth Finals MVP award on Friday had the Lakers been victorious.
Instead, his late-game pass to a wide-open Danny Green at the top of the key after drawing four defenders near the paint is what’s getting criticized and dissected in the aftermath. Green missed the 3-pointer badly, followed by a poor turnover from Markieff Morris that set the series at 3-2.
“I trusted him, we trusted him, and it just didn't go in,” James said of his decision to pass to Green. “You live with that. You live with that. It's one of the best shots that we could have got, I feel, in that fourth quarter, especially down the stretch with two guys on me, Duncan Robinson and Jimmy, and Danny had a hell of a look. It just didn't go down. I know he wishes he can have it again. I wish I could make a better pass, you know, but you just live with it.”
Heat rookie sharpshooter Duncan Robinson had 26 points and was 7-of-13 from beyond the arc.
“We have to be better on the defensive end and take care of what we've got to take care of,” Anthony Davis said after producing 28 points, 12 rebounds, three steals and three blocks. “Duncan Robinson came up too many times wide open. Two four-point plays. Offensive rebounds. Stuff that we can control. We're motivated to win Game 6, and they are motivated to win Game 6. It's not going to be easy, but we expect to win.”
Now the Heat are feeling good about their chances, and the Lakers are literally back on their heels. Davis re-aggravated his right heel injury in the first quarter after Andre Iguodala inadvertently stepped on it.
Davis reentered the game in the second quarter and didn’t favor the foot much at all, but he appeared to irritate it in the fourth and was seen hobbling a bit up and down the court.
“I’ll be fine on Sunday,” Davis said of the 7:30 p.m. ET start on ABC.
The bubble experience has been difficult for many players. It has taken its toll, not only physically, but psychologically as well. It’s been a relief for many players to exit the Bubble after being eliminated.
The Heat aren’t ready just yet.
“It’s only four days left,” Crowder told Yahoo Sports. “To throw it all away just because it’s at the end and you want to get out of here, it’s not worth it. We put a lot of work into this. We’re four days away. If we’ve been here for 90-plus days, you can do five more days.”
More from Yahoo Sports: