Desperate for home wins in a tight playoff race and after such an inspiring win against the Philadelphia 76ers, the Heat instead allowed a season-high points for an opponent as the Lakers shot almost 60% from the field to go along with 16-29 from 3-point range. The absence of Wayne Ellington and Tyler Johnson on the offensive side was felt, despite yet another strong game from Dwyane Wade off the bench, but it was the defense that was the main culprit in the highly disappointing loss.
The Lakers began the game shooting well from the field and never let up with their non-stop high octane offense that Erik Spoelstra had no answers for. With each possession they would constantly push the ball up court before the Heat could settle in defensively. Their offense was humming along just fine, aided by Lonzo Ball’s return to the starting lineup, but it went to another level once Isaiah Thomas checked into the game and proceeded to pour in a season-high 29 points in 30 minutes.
Not only did the Lakers shoot well from the outside, Julius Randle punished the Heat inside the paint and either easily scored or got his points on the foul line. Brandon Ingram found plenty of lanes to attack the rim as well, and there was simply no Heat lineup combination that worked against them. In his second game back from injury, Kelly Olynyk was inserted back into the starting lineup but was ineffective in 13 scoreless minutes. In an attempt to counter L.A.’s speed, Spoelstra tried instead with Bam Adebayo to open the second half alongside Hassan Whiteside, who did little in 19 wasted minutes with just one field goal in four attempts, but the Lakers only increased their lead after scoring 73 points by the half.
Miami did get encouraging performances from Justise Winslow with 17 points on 7-11 FG shooting along with five rebounds as well as Wade with 25 points (11-18 FG shooting) in 26 minutes. But a loss really hurts the Heat after two quality wins with their overall lack of effort and an inability to adjust to their opponent tonight was more than puzzling at this stage of the season with so much at stake. Whatever the reason for this listless performance, they must regroup for the all-important clash against the Detroit Pistons on Saturday in a fight for one of the last playoff spots in the East.