March 1, 2018, 11:51 pm
The Lakers (27-34) soundly defeated the Miami Heat (32-30) 131-113 on Thursday, earning their fourth win in a row and making it 16-of-23. With the victory, the Lakers have already eclipsed their win total from last season.
Miami came into the game as a top-ten defensive team — that may not be the case after the offensive gem the Lakers laid on them. The Lakers shot 59.5 percent from the floor, 55.2 percent from 3-point range and 80.8 percent from the free throw line.
Los Angeles blitzed the Heat in the first quarter, jumping out to a 20-7 lead before Miami knew what hit them. The Heat responded by closing the quarter on a 29-13 run to take a three-point advantage. The Lakers took control of the game with an 8-0 to start the second period — a lead they would never relinquish.
Julius Randle dominated the game early with 21 points, four rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block and a plus-16 rating in the first half. He is averaging 20.4 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 4.6 assists over his last seven games and is really coming into his own as a player. He suffered from some cramping in the second half that he attributed to the humidity in Miami, but said that he would be fine for the next contest. Randle made 9-of-9 from the free throw line and is perfect since an 0-of-5 performance against the Sacramento Kings at the beginning of the road trip.
Lonzo Ball moved into the starting roster due to the injury (fractured left hand) to Josh Hart. Ball influenced the game immediately by getting a steal on Miami’s first possession, leading to a Laker basket and their first lead of the night. Ball was everywhere on defense tonight, getting into passing lanes, surprising Heat players with aggressive blind-side reads and deflecting anything in his vicinity. It was impressive that was able to impact the game in multiple ways even though he only took five shots on the night; finishing with eight points, six rebounds, seven assists, six steals and a game-high plus-24 rating. He continued to show improvement with his shot, converting 3-of-5 from the field and 2-of-3 from 3-point range. In his post game interview, coach Luke Walton referred to Ball as the team’s best player tonight due to his transcendent all-around effort.
Isaiah Thomas picked up the slack when Randle slowed down, finishing the game with a season-high 29 points while adding four rebounds and six assists on 11-of-20 shooting from the floor and 6-of-11 from 3-point range. Thomas was crucial to the win, scoring 13 points in a row for the Lakers when the game was still in question, including three consecutive 3-pointers that spanned from the end of the third quarter to the start of the fourth. It was by far his best game this season and as a Laker. If he is able to regain the All-Star level he demonstrated last year with the Celtics, the Lakers will have a potent weapon to augment their arsenal.
Brandon Ingram continued his strong play with 19 points, five rebounds, five assists, one steal and one block while shooting 8-of-14 from the field. In a strange twist he had a minus-10 rating for the game, the only Laker to have a negative rating. More concerning was that he left the game with a strained groin after being on the wrong end of a hard foul in the fourth quarter — the Lakers announced that he is questionable for Saturday’s game against the Spurs.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was among the many Lakers with notable performances, tallying 18 points, four rebounds and one assist while knocking down 6-of-8 from the field and 2-of-3 from 3-point range.
Miami got a second-consecutive outstanding effort from Dwyane Wade who provided a huge spark off the bench with 25 points, three rebounds and three assists while making 11-of-18 shots.
They also got a solid game from All-Star Goran Dragic who added 19 points, four rebounds, seven assists, one steal and a plus-2 rating. He was joined by Justise Winslow who enjoyed one of his best games of the season with 17 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals on 7-of-11 from the field and 3-of-4 from 3-point range.
Hassan Whiteside was noticeably absent from the game and box score, contributing only six points, seven rebounds and a minus-19 rating across 19 lackluster minutes. He was replaced for the majority of the game by rookie center Bam Adebayo who excelled to the tune of 15 points, 10 rebounds, two blocked shots and a plus-5 rating while shooting 6-of-7 from the floor.
Key Stats and Observations
-Los Angeles is simply on fire; this is the first time since 1993 that the Lakers have scored over 100 points in 16 consecutive games.
-Since the All-Star break the Lakers are shooting 46 percent from 3-point range.
-The 131 points the Lakers scored was a season-high against Heat. This was the most points the Lakers have scored against the Heat since January 7, 1990.
-Los Angeles was outrebounded 40-36 and 14-6 on the offensive glass. However, that may have been a product of the Lakers’ torrid shooting and their nine steals, as there were simply not many rebounding opportunities available. They did do an adequate job controlling their defensive glass with a 30-26 edge in that department.
-The Lakers had a 29-23 assist advantage over the Heat, including 19 first-half helpers for the purple and gold.
-Los Angeles only turned the ball over 14 times, two fewer than their season average. Miami had 11 turnovers, nine of which were represented by the Lakers’ steals.
– The Lakers were outscored 58-48 in the paint but more than made up for it with 21-point advantage from the 3-point line and nine-point advantage from the free throw line.
The Lakers head to San Antonio on Saturday with a chance to sweep their three-game road trip.
Los Angeles will face a Spurs team that still does not have Kawhi Leonard back as he continues to deal with a mysterious quad injury that has lingered for the bulk of the season. It was recently reported that he had declined to rejoin the team, even though he had received medical clearance from team physicians. He promptly returned to the team’s facilities this week with the hope of returning to action at some point this season.
On the court the Spurs are led by LeMarcus Aldridge who is averaging 22.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.0 assist and 1.2 blocked shots. He is currently listed as questionable due to a sprained ankle he suffered against the Pelicans on Wednesday night.