LOS ANGELES – Where would the Heat be without Goran Dragic?
Dragic once again carried the Heat’s offense, but this time he also made the biggest shot of the game, a floater in the lane with 15.2 seconds to play Friday to give the Heat a 92-91 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center.
The Lakers had one last shot but Isaiah Thomas’ shot over Justise Winslow and Bam Adebayo was short and Miami was able to salvage the final game of this three-game trip along with snapping a nine-game road losing trip.
The Heat (37-33) led 88-81 with just under six minutes to play but then went cold. Miami managed just a Kelly Olynyk field goal as the Lakers scored 10 of the next 12 points. But after the Lakers took the 91-90 lead, the Heat’s defense clamped down leading to Dragic’s game winner.
Dragic led the Heat with 30 points. Kelly Olynyk had a solid game off the bench with 17 points and five rebounds.
Heat killer Julius Randle led the Lakers with 25 points.
The Heat were without Hassan Whiteside (hip) for the fourth consecutive game and Dwyane Wade (hamstring) for the third game in a row. But Josh Richardson returned after missing one game because of a sore left foot..
Here are our five takeaways:
Pace not a problem: The Heat were blitzed by the Lakers two weeks ago at home, 131-113, marking the most points the Miami allowed in regulation in 10 years. The Lakers had 22 fast break points at halftime and finished with 48 points in the paint, 38 in the first half. This time it was different. The Heat slowed down the Lakers up tempo game, holding them to just 15 fast-break points and 44 points in the paint. Miami had almost as many fast-break points (13) and six more points in the paint.
Dragic to the rescue: Dragic has played some of his best basketball of the season on this road trip. He started with 23 points at Portland, then equaled his season high with 33 in Sacramento. Dragic had 22 of his points on Friday in the first half, keeping the Heat in a game that was tied at 50 at the break. Those 22 came on 7-of-10 shooting. The rest of the team was 18 of 39. He finished 10-of-18 from the floor and was 31-of-36 on the three-game road trip,
Tough night for Josh Richardson: The Heat listed Richardson as doubtful on Thursday but his foot responded to treatment and he was back in the starting lineup Friday. Richardson, who missed just one game – his only one of the season – struggled the entire game. He missed his first four shots before draining a big 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter for his lone basket of the game. He finished with three points and was just 1-of-8 from the field.
The craziness of the playoff race: Even having lost 2-of-3 on this road trip, the Heat’s hold on a playoff spot has remained pretty secure. Miami still holds the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, but now are six games ahead of No. 9 Detroit and just percentage points behind No. 7 Milwaukee. The Heat still has some work to do to climb in the standings but they have set their sights higher, and why not? The Heat are two games behind No. 6 Philadelphia and 2.5 behind No. 5 Washington.
The end in sight: The Heat have 12 games remaining, eight of those at home, after completed this West Coast trip. Miami has a short two-game homestand next week against Denver (Monday) and the Knicks (Wednesday) before traveling to Oklahoma City and Indiana. Miami then returns to American AirlinesArena for four games – Cleveland, Chicago, Brooklyn, Atlanta – before finishing up with games at Atlanta and New York and home against OKC and Toronto.