Five takeaways: Heat just can’t keep up in blowout loss to fast-paced Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers forward Julius Randle (30) goes up for a shot against Miami Heat guard Josh Richardson (0) and center Hassan Whiteside (21) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, March 1, 2018, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

MIAMI — The Lakers entered playing at the fastest pace in the NBA, and the Heat entered playing at the third-slowest. Which team would set the tempo?

Los Angeles (27-34) dictated the terms of Thursday’s matchup to defeat Miami 131-113 at AmericanAirlines Arena. The Heat (32-30) could never match their pace, giving up a season-high in points on 59.5 percent shooting.

“They ran us out of the gym,” Heat point guard Goran Dragic said. “Their pace was really high, and we basically didn’t even defend. … . Basically the game was in their ballpark.”

The Lakers’ 131 points marked the most the Heat have allowed in regulation in a regular-season game since giving up 134 points to the Warriors on March 7, 2008. In franchise history, Miami is 1-23 in regular-season games it allows opponents to score 130 points or more.

The loss dropped Miami to 2-1 on its critical five-game homestand, with an important matchup against the Pistons set for Saturday. Meanwhile, Los Angeles is 16-7 over its past 23 games after starting the season with an 11-27 record.

It wasn’t Miami’s offense that was the problem, as it shot 48.4 percent. It was the defense, with the Lakers shooting 16-of-29 on 3-pointers and scoring more than 30 points in three of the four quarters.

“We are much, much better than what we showed tonight defensively,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Let’s not take anything away from what they did and what they brought tonight. They came in here, played aggressively, got us on our heels and they deserved to have that kind of discrepancy in the score.”

Isaiah Thomas led Los Angeles with a game-high and season-high 29 points, including 11 in the fourth. Julius Randle finished with 25 points on 8-of-13 shooting.

The Heat were led by Dwyane Wade, who recorded 25 points on 11-of-18 shooting in 26 minutes.

Thursday marked the Lakers’ first win over the Heat in Miami since Feb. 10, 2008.

“We just didn’t deserve it,” Wade said. “They obviously shot very well. Overall you would love to win these kind of games where you don’t deserve to win. That team right there, they’re playing a great version of pickup basketball and they have a lot of talent doing it.”

Here are our five takeaways …

Heat can’t keep up: The Lakers were too fast and too good for the Heat. Los Angeles, which has played at the fastest pace in the NBA this season, dictated the tempo from the start with 73 points in the first half. The Lakers finished with 131 points on 59.5 shooting, including 22 fast-break points. The Heat’s defense just couldn’t find a way to slow the pace. Miami’s offense wasn’t bad, with 113 points on 48.4 percent shooting. But the Heat weren’t as good as the hot-shooting Lakers. Miami is 7-11 this season against the eight fastest teams in the NBA, in terms of pace.

“They were playing at a different pace, energy level,” Spoelstra said. “Particularly at the start of the game, when it just felt like they were running right by us. They had 22 in transition at the half. We were on our heels the whole way.”

Dwyane Wade is still hot: After making eight of his final 10 shots — including the game-winning jumper with 5.9 seconds to play — in Tuesday’s dramatic win over Philadelphia, Wade carried that momentum into Thursday. Wade scored 25 points on 11-of-18 shooting against the Lakers. It looks like the 12-time All-Star is growing more comfortable in Miami’s offense and in his bench role. Wade is averaging 26 points on 61.8 percent shooting in the Heat’s past two games. This comes after he scored 8.6 points on 34.5 percent shooting in his first five games back in Miami.

“Just trying to get familiar with what my role is and what this team needs from me at different times,” Wade said. “Obviously, offensively the last two games I found a couple of things that work. Just continue to try to get better, as I said when I came here, try to continue to get in better shape so I can give this team more.”

Welcome back, Rodney: Rodney McGruder, who had surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left leg in October, made his season debut in Tuesday’s victory over the 76ers. But it was a quick appearance, as he finished with three points in nine minutes. McGruder got extended playing time in his second game back, recording 10 points in 25 minutes. The Heat were outscored by four points with McGruder on the court, which isn’t bad considering it was an 18-point loss.

A look at the Whiteside-Olynyk frontcourt: The Heat aren’t afraid to play 7-footers Hassan Whiteside and Kelly Olynyk together. In fact, they started Thursday’s game in Miami’s frontcourt, as Tyler Johnson’s injury forced Spoelstra to change the starting lineup. But the results weren’t great against the up-tempo Lakers. The Heat were outscored 27-14 in eight minutes with Whiteside (finished with six points and seven rebounds) and Olynyk (scoreless on 0-of-5 shooting) playing together. Miami has now been outscored by 23 points in 176 minutes this season with this duo on the court. Spoelstra even started rookie Bam Adebayo in place of Olynyk to begin the second half. Were Thursday’s struggles a product of a bad matchup against a fast team or is Whiteside-Olynyk just not an effective combination? It will be interesting to see how much Spoelstra plays them together moving forward.

Standings watch: The Heat are still hanging on to the Eastern Conference’s eight and final playoff spot. After Thursday’s loss, Miami is 2.5 games ahead of No. 9 Detroit with the Heat and Pistons set to face off Saturday at AmericanAirlines Arena. Miami is 1.5 games behind No. 7 Milwaukee and two games behind No. 6 Philadephia. The Heat had an opportunity to further distance themselves from ninth place and move closer to the teams ahead of them in the standings, but they let it go to waste.

“It’s huge because Saturday is worth two games,” Heat forward Josh Richardson said. “The Detroit Pistons are a very good team. We owe them one. They got us in Detroit. We have to have a short memory. We have to come in tomorrow and come in to work.”

[What was Rodney McGruder’s reaction when he heard his name called Tuesday?]

[With Tyler Johnson (and Wayne Ellington) out tonight, Kelly Olynyk rejoins Heat starting lineup]

[Dwyane Wade already ‘leaned down’ three weeks after being traded to Heat, but not done yet]

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