What to know about tonight’s game: Another night without Dwyane Wade, Hassan Whiteside, Josh Richardson for Heat?

Los Angeles Lakers forward Julius Randle goes up for a shot against Miami Heat guard Josh Richardson and center Hassan Whiteside during the Lakers blowout victory in Miami on March 1. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

MIAMI HEAT AT LOS ANGELES LAKERS

When: Friday, 10:30 p.m.

Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles

TV/Radio: Fox Sports Sun, NBA TV/WAXY 790AM, WQBA 1140AM (Spanish)

Records: Miami 36-33, Los Angeles 31-37

Line: Off the board

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS

Heat

F: Luke Babbitt

F: James Johnson

C: Bam Adebayo

G: Tyler Johnson

G: Goran Dragic

Lakers

F: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

F: Julius Randle

C: Brook Lopez

G: Isaiah Thomas

G: Lonzo Ball

Scouting report: Miami will be without Dion Waiters (left ankle surgery), Dwyane Wade (mild left hamstring strain) and Hassan Whiteside (left hip pain). Josh Richardson is listed as doubtful with left foot soreness. … The Lakers will be without Channing Frye (appendectomy), Josh Hart (left hand fourth metacarpal fracture) and Brandon Ingram (left groin strain). Kyle Kuzma (right ankle sprain) is listed as questionable. … The Lakers have played at the fastest pace in the NBA this season, averaging 103.24 possessions per 48 minutes. The Heat have played at the fifth-slowest pace, with 97.52 possessions per 48 minutes. … Since being traded to the Lakers, Isaiah Thomas is averaging 16.7 points on 39.6 percent shooting and 5.5 assists in 14 games. … The Lakers lead the NBA in paint points with 52.8 per game and are second in fast-break points with 17.3 per game. … The Heat have dropped nine straight road games, with their last road win coming on Jan. 29 against the Mavericks. … Miami is 21-6 this season when holding opponents to under 100 points. … The Heat and Lakers have faced off once this season, with Los Angeles winning that game — the Lakers beat the Heat 131-113 in Miami on March 1.

[For second time in five games, multiple missed calls in final seconds may have cost Heat a victory]

[Heat hoping not to relive horror show as they try to snap 9-game road losing streak against fast-paced Lakers]

[Heat, Wayne Ellington set franchise records for 3-point attempts in loss at Kings. Did they shoot too many?]

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What to know about tonight’s game: Heat look to stay undefeated in important homestand vs. Lakers

The Miami Heat’s Hassan Whiteside, right, looks to the basket as the Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons defends in the second quarter at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018. The Heat won, 102-101. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/TNS)

LOS ANGELES LAKERS AT MIAMI HEAT

When: Thursday, 7:30 p.m.

Where: AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami

TV/Radio: Fox Sports Sun/WAXY 790AM, WQBA 1140AM (Spanish)

Records: Los Angeles 26-34, Miami 32-29

Line: Heat favored by 4.0 points

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS

Lakers

F: Brandon Ingram

F: Julius Randle

C: Brook Lopez

G: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

G: Lonzo Ball

Heat

F: Josh Richardson

F: Justise Winslow

C: Hassan Whiteside

G: Tyler Johnson

G: Goran Dragic

Scouting report: Miami will be without Dion Waiters (left ankle surgery). Wayne Ellington (left quad contusion) is listed as doubtful and Tyler Johnson (left quad contusion) is listed as questionable. Both Ellington and Johnson were held out of Wednesday’s practice. … The Lakers will be without Channing Frye (appendectomy) and Josh Hart (left hand fourth metacarpal fracture). … Los Angeles enters on a three-game winning streak and has posted a 15-7 record over its past 22 games after starting the season with an 11-27 record. … The Lakers lead the NBA in paint points with 53.5 per game and are second in fast-break points with 17.3 per game. … Brandon Ingram is averaging a team-high 16.2 points for the Lakers this season. … The Heat are ranked seventh in the league in defensive rating, allowing 104.0 points per 100 possessions. But they are also 25th in offensive rating, scoring 103.3 points per 100 possessions. … Dwyane Wade is averaging 11.7 points on 40.8 percent shooting to go with 4.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.0 steal in six games since returning to Miami. … The Heat are 19-6 this season when holding opponents to under 100 points. … The Lakers and Heat have not faced off yet this season. After Thursday’s matchup, the two teams will meet again on March 16 in Los Angeles. … The Heat have started their critical five-game homestand with a 2-0 record.

[Will Wayne Ellington and Tyler Johnson play Thursday vs. Lakers despite quad contusions?]

[Did Dwyane Wade have help from above on game-winning shot after paying tribute to victim in Parkland shooting?]

[Video: How important was Tuesday’s win over 76ers for Dwyane Wade, Heat?]

[Miscommunication leads to strategy – fouling Ben Simmons – that is key to Miami Heat win]

[Dwyane Wade buries jumper, proclaims ‘This is my house.’ Josh Richardson: ‘That’s why they call it Wade County’]

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Lamar Odom on Heat: ‘If you have talent and you go to Miami, it’s going to be maximized’

Lamar Odom on the Miami Heat: ‘If you don’t go hard, you can’t play there. That’s why I respect their program and their tradition and their style of basketball even to this day.’ (Photo Getty Images)

Lamar Odom played one season with the Miami Heat, but it was a season that shaped the rest of Odom’s career and even how he watches basketball today.

Odom, in an interview with Shams Charania of The Vertical, spoke about his career, including his disappointment over being traded by the Lakers in 2011, and the impact the Heat and president Pat Riley had on his life.

Odom, 37, signed with the Heat in 2003 and after one season was part of the trade with the Lakers in which the Heat acquired Shaquille O’Neal.

Although Odom was happy to return to Los Angeles – he spent his first four years with the Clippers before coming to Miami – he realized he left an organization that is able to bring out the best in their players.

[Oddsmakers not impressed with Miami Heat’s off season]

[Mailbag: What does losing out on Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving say about the Miami Heat?]

Odom told The Vertical he had never worked out before training camp before signing with the Heat and that he “learned how to play hard and what playing hard was,” during his season in Miami.

“There was one game when we played in Puerto Rico against the 76ers, and I shot the ball bad,” Odom said. “But I had a lot of rebounds, had two ‘and-ones’ in crunch time, and I was like, ‘Damn.’ I was down. Pat runs up to me, reads me the stat line, and says, ‘Yeah, O. I like that (expletive). I like how hard you went.’

“In Miami, if you don’t go hard, you can’t play there. That’s why I respect their program and their tradition and their style of basketball even to this day, even though they didn’t make it to the playoffs last year. Because I played there and I understand them, I can still watch them. I know what they’re going through in practice. They’re getting pushed to the limit. So if you have talent and you go to Miami, it’s going to come out and be maximized.

“We had (Dwyane) Wade, Caron (Butler), Eddie Jones, Rasual Butler, Rafer Alston, Brian Grant. We had a good nucleus. We had a gritty team, blue-collar. I took the Heat philosophy for my whole career. When I watch basketball now, I watch it through the eyes of somebody that played for the Heat.”

Odom averaged 17.1 points and 9.7 rebounds during his one season in Miami after signing his six-year, $65 million deal. He and Wade led the Heat to the second round of the playoffs.

But when the Shaq-Kobe Bryant relationship soured Riley swooped in and offered the Lakers anybody on the roster, except Wade.

Odom, Caron Butler and Grant were headed to L.A.

Odom spent seven seasons with the Lakers, where he teamed with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol to win two titles. His career, and life, spiraled out of control after leaving the Lakers. Odom has gone public about his issues with drug use which included a life-threatening drug overdose in a Las Vegas brothel in October 2015. Odom suffered multiple strokes, kidney failure and was in a coma and on life support.

He says now he is lucky to be alive.

The Heat also benefited from the Odom trade as Wade and Shaq led Miami to its first title in 2006.

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UPDATED: Heat’s Pat Riley lapping Phil Jackson’s success in front office

Head Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers Phil Jackson and Head Coach of the Miami Heat Pat Riley share a laugh before the game on December 25, 2005 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. The Heat defeated the Lakers 97-92. (Photo by Victor Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
Head Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers Phil Jackson and Head Coach of the Miami Heat Pat Riley share a laugh before the game on December 25, 2005 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. The Heat defeated the Lakers 97-92. (Photo by Victor Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)

Being a successful NBA player does not always mean you’d make a successful NBA executive.

Why? Because for every Pat Riley, there is a Phil Jackson.

Both Riley and Jackson were good NBA players who became great NBA coaches. Both coached the Los Angeles Lakers to multiple NBA championships, and Jackson won 11 rings overall when you include the six he won with the Chicago Bulls.

But they have fared differently in the front office. When comparing their front-office careers, Riley has longevity over Jackson, but it’s fair to say that, so far, the “Zen Master” has nothing to compare to the calming hand “The Godfather” has used to steer the Heat through good and bad times.

And today, Jackson’s time as an executive came to an end when it was reported that he and the Knicks are parting ways. Jackson, 71, likely is  done as a top executive given his disastrous run in N.Y.

Here’s a quick breakdown of how they’ve fared:

Phil Jackson

  • Became President of Basketball Operations of the New York Knicks in March 2014.
  • Leaves with the Knicks going 80-166 in his three full seasons as team president, losing at least 50 games in each season.
  • Hired one of his former players, Derek Fisher — who had recently retired and had no head coaching experience — to coach the Knicks after firing Mike Woodson, who had gone 109-79 in parts of three seasons in New York.
  • Re-signed Carmelo Anthony in the 2014 offseason to a deal that included veto power over the Knicks trading him without his approval.
  • In the 2014-15 season, the Knicks set a franchise mark with 16 straight losses and went 17-65, their worst record ever.
  • Drafted Kristaps Porzingis fourth overall in 2015.
  • Fired Derek Fisher in Feb. 2016 after a 1-9 stretch left the Knicks with a 23-31 record.
  • In a surprise move, hired Jeff Hornacek in June 2016 to replace interim coach Kurt Rambis. Hornacek had been fired earlier in the year by Phoenix.
  • Has used Twitter and other passive-aggressive means to ridicule and undermine Anthony.

Pat Riley

  • Stepped down as head coach of the Heat to turn his full attention to being team president after the 2002-03 season.
  • Drafted Dwyane Wade fifth overall in 2003.
  • In 2004, traded Caron Butler, Brian Grant, Lamar Odom and a first-round draft pick to the Los Angeles Lakers for Shaquille O’Neal, who was disgruntled with the Lakers.
  • Took over as head coach again during the 2005-06 season after he pushed out Stan Van Gundy.
  • With O’Neal and Wade, the Heat won their first NBA championship in June 2006, defeating the Dallas Mavericks 4-2.
  • In 2008 after the Heat finished 15-67, Riley stepped down as head coach again but remained team president and promoted Erik Spoelstra to head coach. Spoelstra has proven to be an inspired hire and is now the second-longest-tenured coach in the league behind Gregg Popovich.
  • In 2010, Riley signed free agents LeBron James and Chris Bosh to team up with Wade, forming a trio that would play in four straight NBA Finals and win two championships.
  • Won the 2011 NBA Executive of the Year award.
  • Did not re-sign Wade, the face of the franchise, in the summer of 2016, instead opting to rebuild the team around a young core. Miami entered the week with a 24-31 record, but had won 13 of their last 14 despite a roster shortened by injuries to its young stars and made up of castoffs, journeymen and unproven players.

Five takeaways from the Miami Heat’s 127-100 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers' Lou Williams shoots under pressure from the Miami Heat's James Johnson (16) in the first quarter on Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, at Staples Center in Los Angeles. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
The Los Angeles Lakers’ Lou Williams shoots under pressure from the Miami Heat’s James Johnson (16) in the first quarter on Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, at Staples Center in Los Angeles. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

LOS ANGELES — After the Heat’s blowout loss to the 14-26 Lakers, Erik Spoelstra didn’t take out his frustration on his team.

He pointed that frustration at the officials after Goran Dragic was ejected for just the second time in his NBA career for his role in a scuffle with Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson with 5:29 remaining in the third quarter.

“It’s really shameful, disgraceful that Goran Dragic got thrown out of that game,” Spoelstra said. “Gets an elbow to his face, somebody that wants to fight, knocks him down on the ground and just a bailout, shameful, disgraceful ejection. There’s no way he should be thrown out in that situation for just taking an elbow to the face and getting up. Not even necessarily defending himself. Just getting up.”

The ejection kept Dragic from helping the Heat late in the game, as the Lakers went on to defeat the Heat 127-100 on Friday at the Staples Center. Continue reading “Five takeaways from the Miami Heat’s 127-100 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers”

Five takeaways from the Miami Heat’s 115-107 win over the Los Angeles Lakers

MIAMI — At halftime, the Heat honored Shaquille O’Neal by retiring his No. 32 jersey. After halftime, the Heat finally started to play inspired basketball.

Los Angeles controlled the first half to enter halftime with a seven-point lead.

But the Heat (10-20) dominated the second half to defeat the Lakers 115-107 at AmericanAirlines Arena on Thursday night. Miami outscored Los Angeles 62-47 over the final two quarters to earn the win and end its six-game homestand with a 3-3 record. Continue reading “Five takeaways from the Miami Heat’s 115-107 win over the Los Angeles Lakers”

Where would an all-time Heat roster rank compared to other NBA teams?

Shaquille O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning helped the Heat win the 2006 NBA title.
Shaquille O’Neal and Alonzo Mourning helped the Heat win the 2006 NBA title.

The Miami Heat have made a sizable impact on the NBA landscape since joining the association in 1988, but how would a roster of the Heat’s all-time best players stack up against other teams’ historic collections?

PointAfter, a data-driven sports-research website, created rosters of the 12 best players that have played for each NBA organization and ranked the teams based on the win shares that the players on the roster accumulated over their time with that franchise. The player were chosen based on “a combination of All-NBA team nods, All-Defensive teams earned, All-Star appearances, championship rings and overall contributions to the organization,” according to PointAfter.

The Miami Heat’s starting five features a quintet of familiar faces: Tim Hardaway at point guard, Dwyane Wade at shooting guard, LeBron James at small forward, Chris Bosh at power forward and Alonzo Mourning at center. It should come as no surprise that the “Big Three,” with their championship runs and award-winning seasons, are well represented among the Heat’s hypothetical starting five.

The Heat’s all-time roster boasts a deep bench consisting of Shaquille O’Neal, Glen Rice, P.J. Brown, Eddie Jones, Rony Seikaly, Ray Allen and Udonis Haslem. O’Neal likely lost out on a starting spot due to the brevity of his stay in Miami, while the face of the franchise Udonis Halsem’s longevity no doubt helped earn him a roster spot.

As a whole, the Heat’s all-time roster combined for a total of 549.3 win shares, placing them 21st out of 30 teams. Miami finished ahead of the Toronto Raptors, Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Clippers and in-state rival Orlando Magic, among others.

Not surprisingly, the Boston Celtics feature the greatest all-time roster, led by Hall of Famers Larry Bird and Bill Russell, PointAfter says. Rounding out the top five behind the Celtics are the Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers, Utah Jazz and San Antonio Spurs. Despite the efforts of Hall of Famer Michael Jordan, the Chicago Bulls ranked only seventh on the list.

For more, read PointAfter.

NBA schedule 2016-17: 10 most important games for the Miami Heat

Goran Dragic #7 of the Miami Heat takes a foot to the chin as he is defended by Jeff Teague #0 and Al Horford #15 of the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on February 19, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Goran Dragic #7 of the Miami Heat takes a foot to the chin as he is defended by Jeff Teague #0 and Al Horford #15 of the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on February 19, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Many experts are suggesting the Miami Heat could be fighting for one of the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference in 2017, and as a result every game takes on greater significance.

From winning the games they are expected to win, to handling their divisional opponents, the Heat will need to capitalize on every opportunity to pick up wins, both at home and on the road.

Following Thursday night’s release of the 2016-17 NBA schedule, here are the 10 most important games on the Heat’s docket:

Nov. 10, 2016: Heat vs. Chicago Bulls

Beyond the Dwyane Wade element of the Heat’s home matchup against the Bulls, the game will be played between two teams likely to be on the fringe of the playoffs. If both teams were fighting for a postseason spot at year’s end, holding court at home could help Miami ease its worries about potential tie-breakers.

Nov. 15, 2016: Heat vs. Atlanta Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks finished second in the Southeast Division last season with the same record as the Heat. Though Atlanta lost center Al Horford in free agency, they did add Dwight Howard. Miami will need to protect its home court against a Hawks team many are picking to finish ahead of them in the standings.

Dec. 12, 2016: Heat vs. Washington Wizards

The Wizards struggled to a 41-41 record last season, good for fourth in the Southeast Division. But they added Trey Burke via trade and are expected to be better as Bradley Beal gets healthier. Much like their season series with the Hawks, the Heat will need to protect home court against a solid divisional foe.

Like the Heat, the Los Angeles Lakers will have many new faces in 2016-17. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Like the Heat, the Los Angeles Lakers will have many new faces in 2016-17. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Jan. 6, 2017: Heat @ Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers are coming off of a 17-win season and — although they have good, young talent and added veterans like Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov — they are unlikely to improve significantly next year. Though the Lakers are not an Eastern Conference team, this is a game that Miami should be expected to win, therefore making it important that they do so.

Jan. 25, 2017: Heat @ Brooklyn Nets

The Nets won just 21 games last year and, despite adding Jeremy Lin, are expected to bring up the rear of the Eastern Conference. The Heat won three of four matchups against Brooklyn last season, but did drop a home game to the Nets just after Christmas. The Heat will need to handle Brooklyn, who are perceived as a lesser opponent, on the road.

Feb. 11, 2017: Heat @ Philadelphia 76ers

Much like the Nets, the 76ers are coming off of a disappointing campaign. Only Philadelphia fared much worse, winning only 10 games last year. The Sixers seem as though they are in a perpetual rebuilding mode, and the Heat need to take advantage of every matchup they have against the young and developing squad. While Ben Simmons may grow into one of the league’s top stars one day, the Heat will look to capitalize on his growing pains.

Mar. 3, 2017: Heat @ Orlando Magic

Another important divisional matchup, the Heat will need to win up the road in Orlando if they hope to remain near the top of the Southeast. The atmosphere isn’t as hostile in Orlando as in several other NBA cities, meaning that the Heat will need to capitalize. The Magic are an improved team, having added both Bismack Biyombo and Serge Ibaka to their frontcourt. Nikola Vucevic also traditionally plays well against Miami.

Goran Dragic and the Miami Heat will have several important matchups with the Charlotte Hornets during the 2016-17 NBA season. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Goran Dragic and the Miami Heat will have several important matchups with the Charlotte Hornets during the 2016-17 NBA season. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Mar. 8, 2017: Heat vs. Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte, another divisional opponent, finished last year with the same record as Miami, and the two teams even met in the first round of the playoffs. Winning at home against the Hornets will be imperative for the Heat, who will be hard-pressed to win on the road at the Time Warner Cable Arena. The Hornets are expected to again compete for a playoff spot in the East and will represent a home challenge for Miami.

Mar. 28, 2017: Heat @ Detroit Pistons

The Heat won one of their two games last season in Detroit, losing the first by 23 points. Miami will have to at least duplicate that feat of winning at least one road game against a team that they will likely be jockeying for position with in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

The New York Knicks have added both Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah from the Chicago Bulls this offseason. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
The New York Knicks have added both Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah from the Chicago Bulls this offseason. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Mar. 31, 2017: Heat vs. New York Knicks

The Knicks made several moves in the offseason to bring in veteran talent. While it is no guarantee that their new additions stay healthy, on paper, the Knicks legitimately did improve their roster. Winning in New York — especially on the back end of a home-and-home series — will be a challenge for a young Miami team, meaning that they will need to take advantage of home court. Sending a message at AAA against a potential playoff team could pay dividends for the Heat down the road.

Luol Deng’s classy goodbye to Heat, South Florida

Luol Deng is gone, but he loved his time in Miami. (Getty Images)
Luol Deng is gone, but he loved his time in Miami. (Getty Images)

Luol Deng was one of the most misunderstood players in recent Heat history. He was their most consistent player the past two years and did a disproportionate amount of dirty work without ever complaining. He is a slasher by nature, but Miami asked him to space the floor as a spot-up 3-point shooter. He made it work. He’s played small forward his entire career, but switched full-time to power forward last season because Chris Bosh went down. He made that work, too.
Continue reading “Luol Deng’s classy goodbye to Heat, South Florida”

Heat’s Luol Deng agrees to $72 million deal with Lakers

Luol Deng is leaving Miami. (Getty Images)
Luol Deng is leaving Miami. (Getty Images)

As expected, Luol Deng won’t be back with the Heat next season.
Continue reading “Heat’s Luol Deng agrees to $72 million deal with Lakers”