Following the worst loss in franchise history — a 48-point rout in Utah on Monday — as well as a controversial incident between teammates, the Lakers proved that their recent past wasn’t going to haunt their present.
The Lakers battled with Miami in a contest that featured 14 ties and 11 lead changes before Julius Randle finally provided the final blow, as his game-winning bucket with 1.9 seconds remaining in overtime notched the 102-100 victory.
“I was comfortable,” Randle said. “Just wanted to be able to get the last shot off. I was comfortable in myself taking it for sure.”
In perhaps the grittiest game of the season, the Lakers (16-59) shot just 37-of-102 for a 36.3 field goal percentage that was the team’s worst in a win since 2004.
Even head coach Byron Scott admitted, “If you look at the stats, you almost wonder how we won the game.”
However, the Lakers were able to fluster a Miami team scoring among the best in the NBA.
Facing a squad that entered the game averaging 110.9 points this month, L.A. held its guests to just 87 in regulation, while also creating plenty of extra possessions by hauling in a season-high 19 offensive rebounds and forcing 18 turnovers, resulting in 16 more shots than the Heat.
“I ain’t gonna lie to you: Last game was embarrassing,” said Jordan Clarkson, who led the Lakers with 26 points. “Especially with our effort and everything. We just wanted to get out here and compete and try to get a win.”
At first, it appeared that the Lakers might just roll over from the onset, as they quickly dropped to a 25-10 deficit. However, they immediately responded in loud fashion, ending the first quarter on a 15-2 run.
From there, the back-and-forth action commenced with the Heat (43-31) eventually pulling ahead, 51-43, in the third quarter. Still, the young Lakers kept their team right in it, as the Lakers answered with a 16-4 surge keyed by 14 points from Clarkson, Randle and D’Angelo Russell.
Los Angeles was able to keep that momentum rolling right up to the end of regulation, leading 84-79 before Dwyane Wade hit a layup with three minutes to go.
Sixty-two seconds later, Wade ascended to a superhero level worthy of his “Flash” nickname. He hit three straight shots — back-to-back layups and a turnaround jumper — to hand his team an 87-85 led with just 29.7 seconds remaining.
However, the Lakers stayed alive where the Heat faltered: the free throw line. Clarkson drew a foul on Hassan Whiteside with 19.8 seconds on the clock and cooly hit both shots to force overtime as Wade’s buzzer-beater against Russell was off the mark.
Russell opened the extra period with a 3-pointer, which was quickly matched by Luol Deng, who finished with 22 points (9-of-15) and 11 rebounds.
Whiteside — owner of a monster 18-point, 17-rebound, seven-block stat line — scored Miami’s next six points for a 96-94 lead with two minutes left.
After two more foul shots by Clarkson, Wade stabbed again with a mid-range jumper, which Clarkson answered with one of his own.
“It was definitely a humbling experience for me to even step on the court with him like that,” Clarkson said. “Having a battle like that is just crazy.”
Randle hit two free throws for a brief lead, as Wade’s final feat was a game-tying layup with 22.5 seconds on the board. From there, Randle was able to seal it by spinning off Deng into the paint and shooting over a contesting Wade for the victory.
“His awareness, I thought, was fantastic,” head coach Byron Scott said. “And then the ability to get to the paint like he did and score over (Deng) — who I consider a pretty good defensive player — I thought was fantastic.”
Wade did it all for the Heat, finishing with 26 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Though Miami shot 47.7 percent overall, it struggled from both the 3-point (3-of-17) and free throw (15-of-26) lines.
But the overtime period was all about the L.A.’s youth, as the only Lakers to score were Clarkson (six), Russell (five) and Randle (four) — the last of whom racked up his 33rd double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds.
Kobe Bryant played only nine minutes, shooting 1-of-7, before sitting the rest of the game due to “general soreness.” … The Heat were without 11-time All-Star Chris Bosh for the 21st consecutive game due to an undisclosed medical condition. … Former Laker Lamar Odom sat courtside for the contest. … A sold-out crowd of 18,997 filled Staples Center.