x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Age beginning to catch up with Lakers

They looked disinterested against the Heats and they may be 21-9, but they are 2-4 against teams with winning records.

Ever seen a team appear to grow old before your eyes? How about in a single game?

The Los Angeles Lakers morphed into senior citizens in the space of a few hours on Saturday during their anticipated showdown with the Miami Heat.

The Heat looked quicker and hungrier, which is tough to beat. Particularly if you play as the Lakers did, apparently disinterested in making an impression on the new threats to their throne.

The Heat seemed intent on making a statement to the league and to the two-time champion Lakers, and they certainly did that.

The final score - Heat 96-80 - might have been surprising, except that it actually showed improvement by the Lakers, who had contrived to lose 98-79 at home on Tuesday to the 12-16 Milwaukee Bucks.

The Lakers have been in a slump for most of the season. They may be 21-9, but they are 2-4 against teams with winning records.

The Heat were quick and aggressive. They raced as the Lakers cruised, and even a 16-point beating did not seem to alarm the champions. They encountered bumps along the way the past two seasons, and didn't that work out? Kobe Bryant said: "We know what we're capable of doing; that's the problem."

If they were overmatched, they also seemed jaded. Derek Fisher and Bryant looked like what they are: men in their 15th NBA seasons. The forward Ron Artest looked completely lost, just as he has for most of the season.

They looked just plain old.