LOS ANGELES — Coming off the heels of one of the worst losses in franchise history, the Los Angeles Lakers topped the Miami Heat on Wednesday night needing overtime to etch out a 102-100 overtime win.
The Lakers fell into another an all-too-familiar trend of getting off to another slow start quickly following behind double-digits to the Heat.
After holding a 7-4 lead, Miami went on a 21-5 run to take a commanding advantage over Los Angeles that included an 11-0. They would crawl back into the game finishing on a 15-2 run to cut the deficit to 27-25 heading into the second quarter.
Miami took control in the second quarter shooting 60 percent in the period to give them a 48-41 lead at the half. Lou Williams was the only player for Los Angeles in double figures with 10 points while both Luol Deng and Dwyane Wade combined for 26 points in the first half for the Heat.
The teams remained in a deadlock tie at 67 heading into the fourth quarter and continued to battle back and fourth in the final period. Wade scored six straight points to give quarter scoring six capped off by a turnaround jumper with 29.7 seconds to give the Heat an 87-85 lead.
Jordan Clarkson tied things up at 87 after a pair of free throws on the following possession. Wade would miss the potential game-winning shot at the buzzer that sent the game to overtime.
It was once again a back-and-forth contest in overtime. However, Julius Randle put the Lakers on top with a go-ahead layup with 1.9 seconds left.
The victory snaps a seven-game losing to the Heat. Here are five things we learned on Wednesday night:
Bryant’s body isn’t responding
Entering his final tilt against the Heat on Wednesday night, Bryant had averaged 24.4 points in 32 career games against them.
The 37-year-old would have a short night that would be cut short due to “general soreness” scoring just two points on 1-of-7 shooting with two rebounds in nine minutes played.
Bryant got off to a slow start in the first quarter hitting just one of seven shots in the first quarter that included two of his shot attempts being blocked once by Dwyane Wade. He tried to get his body ready to give it a go in the second quarter by putting numerous heating pads on but to no avail as he didn’t take the floor in the second quarter and sat on the bench to watch the remainder of the game.
“I was trying to loosen up. I had a lot of heat packs to try to loosen up, get the muscles and the joints fired up,” Bryant said. “There was no hope tonight. It was everything – my shoulder, my knees, my ankles. I couldn’t move.”
With seven more games left in his career, expected Bryant to attempt to play in every contest unless an injury occurs.
Since being reinserted back into the starting lineup, the 21-year-old has been a double-double machine for the Lakers registering 18 out of his 32 double-doubles of the season.
Randle added his 33rd double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds in the overtime win. He had a relatively quiet first half scoring just two points and five rebounds. He picked it up in the third quarter with six points and five rebounds, but would have to sit back on the bench after picking up his fourth foul in the period.
He would save his best for last in the overtime scoring four points and grabbing three rebounds including nailing the go-ahead spinning layup over Deng and Wade with 1.9 seconds left in the extra period.
“He pretty much had it on his own. He took it upon himself to, first of all, look up and know it was going to be one shot,” Scott said. “When he took it, he was going to make sure it was going to be down to one, two, or three seconds. His awareness was fantastic and then the ability to get to the paint like he did and to score over Luol [Deng] was fantastic.”
It was a moment that Randle voiced following the game that he much comfort in taking the shot in that spot.
“I was comfortable,” Randle said. “Just wanted to be able to get the last shot off. I was comfortable in myself taking it for sure.”
Although the Lakers have struggled tremendously this season, Randle has proven himself to be a promising building block for the franchise moving forward.
Wade still got it
In his last meeting against Bryant, Wade was up for the challenge putting up a productive night registering a double-double by scoring a team-high 26 points on 12-of-21 shooting along with 10 rebounds, and five assists.
He had a strong first half notching 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Wade also had a solid play that saw him cleanly block Bryant along the baseline on a fadeaway jumper. He continued to be a factor in the second half, in particular down the stretch in the fourth quarter scoring six consecutive points including a turnaround jumper with 29.7 seconds to give the Heat an 87-85 lead
However, wade would miss the potential game-winning jumper over D’Angelo Russell with the time expiring in the period. In the overtime period, he scored four points helping keep the Heat in the game, but it didn’t prove to be enough,
Following the game, the 34-year-old had high praise for the Lakers’ star.
“Just his greatness. It is hard to be that great for that long,” Wade said. “It is easy to have a couple of games here and there. he has been great for maybe 19 out of 20 years. To do it at that level for so many years with guys coming after you, I just have a tremendous amount of respect for that. Obviously, what he did in between the lines as a competitor, not many guys have done that play this game of basketball.”
Bryant also shot back similar admiration and respect towards the three-time NBA champion.
“I love him because he is a vicious competitor. he’s vicious. He’s mean,” Bryant said. “We could have those type of battles, and then afterwards hang out, have a conversation, then lace them up and go right back at it. I enjoyed competing against him. The hardest player I’ve ever had to guard in a screen roll. He could come off the screen and just disappear.”
Wade doesn’t possess the same physical ability that he once had a few seasons ago due to his persistent knee issues, but he’s having another productive campaign averaging 19.1 points, 4.7 assists, and 4.1 rebounds per game. This includes scoring 20 or more points 34 times with three 30-point outings and has led the team in scoring 31 times.
With Bryant sitting out the final three quarters of the game due to his body soreness, the rest of the Lakers picked up the slack with five players finishing in double-figure scoring, including the other four starters.
Clarkson led the way with a team-high 26 points, which marked the 16th time that he has led the team in scoring and 18th occasion that he’s scored 20 or more points in a game this season. Roy Hibbert nearly had a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds while Randle notched another double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds. Russell finished with 16 points in the win.
In the overtime period, it was the Lakers’ young core that scored all 15 points with Clarkson (six), Russell (five), and Randle (four) being responsible. It was an impressive overall performance despite Los Angeles shooting just 36.3 percent from the field and 30 percent from 3-point range.
Within the last two seasons, Hassan Whiteside has become one of the most productive and promising big men in the league, which he added to on Wednesday night with a near triple-double with 17 points, 18 rebounds, and seven blocks in 39 minutes played.
The 26-year-old was a force in the first half registering two points with seven rebounds and five blocks in just 15 minutes on the floor. He added to that total in the final two quarters notching his fifth double-double in the last six games scoring 10 and hauling nine rebounds along with a pair of blocks.
Whiteside, who is in his contract year, has been a huge factor on both ends of the floor for the Heat recording 36 double-doubles, including three triple-doubles on the season. He currently leads the league with 3.7 blocks per game while holding the second-highest field goal percentage at 61.7.
Bob Garcia IV
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