In a close battle against a desperate and scrappy Miami Heat squad, the Lakers lost 91-92.
“We were coming off of two stinging losses,” said Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra. “Our guys had an edge to this game and really wanted to impose our will on the game and see if that could earn a different result than what we saw in the last two games.”
Randle led the Lakers with both 25 points and 12 rebounds, the fourth consecutive game in which he led the team in both categories. Veteran guard Goran Dragic scored 30 points, center Bam Adebeyo and forward Josh Richardson made eight rebounds each.
Although four players scored in the double digits, 20 turnovers were a true vice for Los Angeles.
“They were tougher than we were tonight, which is really frustrating,” said Lakers head coach Luke Walton. “We had moments of playing our brand of basketball and being physical and getting stops, they ended up with 18 more shot attempts than we did. Our main goal was don’t turn the ball over and control the pace.”
Both teams kept the game close throughout the first half. Forward James Johnson and Dragic enforced the Miami offense with perimeter shooting. Randle countered with frontcourt shots. Although he scored 12 points in the first quarter, the Lakers were behind 24-25.
Free throws kept the Lakers in the game as center Kelly Olynyk landed two three-pointers. Center Brook Lopez would tie the score at 40 with 4:35 left in the second. The Lakers began to heat up with close-range baskets from guard Lonzo Ball and Randle and a chase down block by Guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Dragic’s offense intensified as the game drew near halftime, creating a tie at 50.
“He’s just great with his ball screens. He’s tough,” said rookie guard Lonzo Ball. “You got big Bam (Adebayo) setting screens and stuff getting over him, he’s a pro at snaking the screen and getting over to his spot.”
Johnson scored for the Heat in the beginning of the third. Miami bested the Lakers with close shots. A three pointer from Lopez would give the Lakers a two-point lead; he would finish the night with 18 points. Caldwell-Pope nabbed a steal and sprinted down the court for a dunk. Shooting at 88.9 percent from the free throw line helped the Lakers stay competitive.
“(Goran) Dragic, he hit really timely shots, couldn’t contain him,” said forward Kyle Kuzma. “That was a big thing and we just turned the ball over a little too much too.”
Three-pointers from Travis Wear would give the Lakers dominance early in the fourth. Wear would end the night with 11 points. However, the Heat would acquire the lead one regulated minute later, sound ball movement and second-chance points would assist Miami. The Heat scored 18 second-chance points, nine more than the Lakers.
“We played great defense, for the most part, we just didn’t push the pace tonight,” Randle said. “I don’t know why we weren’t really getting out grinding.”
Miami also made defensive stops that helped them get a seven-point lead. Randle and Kuzma created a 7-2 run, Kuzma hit a clutch three-pointer to earn a one-point lead.
Dragic would not let the game die, nimbly sending a floating shot over Lopez with seconds left on the clock to score one over the Lakers. With the ball in guard Isaiah Thomas’ hands, the Lakers could not finish this game with a win.
“They trapped me on every pick-and-roll, [but] that’s no excuse,” Thomas said. “I got to find different ways to be able to put the ball in the basket and make plays for my teammates.”
On Monday, the Lakers take on the Indiana Pacers at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse at 4:00 P.M. PST.