L.A.

Lakers cruise past Heat 127-100 behind balanced effort

Photo Credit: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Lakers bounced back in the second night of back-to-back game on Friday night cruising to a 127-100 win over the Miami Heat. 

Following a back-and-forth first half, the Lakers took command in the final two quarters leading by as much as 27 points. Here are a few takeaways from Friday’s contest: 

Russell’s Strong Night

Throughout much of the first portion of the season, D’Angelo Russell has struggled with his consistency on the offensive end of the floor. 

In light of that, he had one of more productive performances finishing with 19 points, six rebounds, and five assists. He had a strong start aggressively attacking the paint scoring 10 of the Lakers’ first 20 points. Almost the entire rest of his offensive production came in the third quarter scoring a team-high eight points in the period. 

The second-year guard has taken it up a notch since the new year averaging 21.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.5 assists in four games played. This includes hitting double figures in each game while pouring in two 20-point outings during that stretch. 

Playing Inside Out

The Lakers in their first season under Luke Walton have become a team more heavily reliant on the 3-point shot. 

In fact, they rank 13th in the league from beyond the arc knocking down 37.8 percent of their looks while taking 26.0 attempts per game. With that in mind, Friday night turned out to be one of those nights where the Los Angeles struggled from 3-point range hitting at just a 35.7 clip and had made just six from downtown entering the fourth quarter. 

Despite that, the Lakers found other ways to compensate for those struggles with the bulk of their scoring from the paint compiling 68 points. This included posting 24 of the first 32 points of the game in the paint. 

“I thought we played smart,” said Luol Deng, who had his fifth double-double of the season with 19 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. “We’ve been playing well, a lot better offensively, passing the ball. We were just focused on the win.”

It also marked the 10th time this season that the Lakers had six players in double figures. They also grabbed a season-high 62 rebounds in tonight’s matchup.

” We just locked in for a full 48 on both ends,” Julius Randle said. “It was just helping each other out on the defensive end and moving the ball.”

Bench Production

Entering Friday’s contest, the Lakers still held the league’s best scoring bench with 48.8 points per game, which is at least six points better than any other team in the NBA. 

Los Angeles put that top-notch bench production on full display against the Heat racking up 64 points. This included three players in double-figure scoring with Lou Williams leading the way scoring a game-high 24 points.

It marked his 14th twenty-point performance of the season. and the 19th time he has led the team in scoring this season.Williams has hit double-figures in 37 of his 40 games this year.

Tarik Black also posted his first double-double of the year with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Meanwhile, Brandon Ingram tied his career high with 17 points on an efficient 6-of-9 shooting along with six rebounds and four assists. 

The bulk of this production came in the second half despite Jordan Clarkson‘s early exit after an altercation with Goran Dragic that both players ejected. In spite of that, Ingram and Williams picked up the slack combining for 33 points scored in the final two quarters of play, including 27 coming in the final period. 

“We are just coming in and trying to let the practices lead into the game,” Ingram said. “I think we did a good job of that tonight.”

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Bob Garcia IV

Bob Garcia IV is a sports journalist from Southern California. He's currently the Los Angeles Lakers beat writer for Sports Out West. He was previously the beat writer for LA Rams Report for Scout.com, which is a website dedicated to covering the Rams. Lastly, he was a reporter for the award-winning newspaper, The Daily Sundial, at California State University, Northridge. You can follow him on Twitter, @BGarcia90.
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