Once again the Miami Heat found themselves in a familiar position in a very close game with little time left and their fate in their hands. This time, however, Goran Dragic made sure the Heat would end their road trip on a positive note with a well-deserved 92-91 win against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.
Dragic completed a back-to-back set of games scoring 30 or more points, the first time in his career, with a dominant performance. The All-Star point guard had already amassed 22 points on 7-10 shooting in the first half alone to lead the way for the team, which was hampered by the absences of Hassan Whiteside and Dwyane Wade. Reserve big man Kelly Olynyk chipped in 17 points, five rebounds, three steals, and two blocks while James Johnson also filled up the box score with 12 points, seven rebounds, a team-leading five assists, three steals and a block. Rookie Bam Adebayo once again filled in admirably for Whiteside, contributing 11 points and eight rebounds (including five offensive boards).
Unlike their bitter overtime loss to the Sacramento Kings earlier this week, the Heat again held a four point lead in the closing minutes of the game. But the Heat held on to the slim lead this time around, with Dragic finding his way to the paint for a high percentage shot while the team put together enough defensive stops to help prevent the Lakers from scoring again after Kyle Kuzma’s three-pointer with 83 seconds left put them ahead by a point.
Isaiah Thomas had one last chance to win the game for L.A. but his jumper clanked off the rim as the buzzer went off to the relief of a weary Heat Nation. Miami also snapped a frustrating nine game road losing streak.
After going 1-2 on this West Coast road trip, the Heat find themselves tied with the Milwaukee Bucks for the last two playoff spots while the ninth place Detroit Pistons are six games behind. They next host the Denver Nuggets on Monday.