October 7, 2020 | 4:30am
The Heat will need more than just center Bam Adebayo to overtake the Lakers.
Adebayo had a fine game Tuesday in his return from injury with 15 points and seven rebounds in 33 minutes, but it wasn’t enough in a 102-96 Game 4 loss to the Lakers that put the Heat behind 3-1 in The Finals.
“Physically [I’m] still not a hundred percent, but I was moving well and getting back to a hundred,’’ Adebayo said afterward.
Miami’s All-Star center ended any suspense concerning his effectiveness in his return from a neck injury that cost him the previous two games. He scored on a dunk in transition on the Heat’s first possession Tuesday.
“I was happy for [Bam],’’ Jimmy Butler said. “He does so many things for us. As we get him back into it, he can watch film and he’ll see how he can really, really fit in.’’
In the second quarter, Adebayo drove the ball upcourt, showcasing his ballhandling skills, and scored in the lane while getting fouled. He was active, finishing with nine points in the first half, but wasn’t a big factor in the fourth quarter and finished with three turnovers.
“He was great considering he hadn’t played in several days,’’ Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Adebayo said he was disappointed in the team’s overall execution.
“We just can’t have so many pockets of undisciplined basketball,’’ he said.
Miami point guard Goran Dragic missed a third straight game with a torn plantar fascia in his left foot. The Heat likely will need him Friday in Game 5 if they are to have any chance of surviving.
The suspense lingered as to whether Adebayo would return two hours before Tuesday’s tipoff. Spoelstra wouldn’t commit to Abedayo or Dragic playing.
“We’re literally minute to minute,’’ Spoelstra said. “We owe it to them. We’ll make the most responsible decision.”
Spoelstra called Adebayo “the heart and soul’’ of the club. Adebayo had been itching to get back for Sunday’s contest, but was denied by the Heat medical staff.
“It’s more of like soreness,’’ Adebayo said. “It’s near your neck, which is near your brain, so it’s more serious than like tweaking an ankle.’’
Viewership of the NBA Finals has kept plummeting game by game, and this year’s series now has set the mark for the three least-watched games in Finals history.
According to Sports Media Watch, Sunday night’s Game 3 between the Lakers and Heat averaged 5.94 million viewers. That is the least-watched NBA Finals game on record.
The previous low was 6.6 million for Game 2. The record of futility began with the opening game, which had 7.4 million viewers, also a record-low.
Markieff Morris started at center for the Lakers in the second half for invisible Dwight Howard.