Lakers Sputter After Big Lead Again In Loss to Heat

It was a new night with a new frontcourt but the same story for the Lakers.

For the second straight game, Los Angeles’ blistering start led to a 19-point first-half lead, and, once again, it let this advantage crumble — this time in a 115-107 loss to Miami.

The Lakers (11-21) still clearly have issues with cementing their lead, as they were also up by 19 in Tuesday’s defeat to the Charlotte Hornets.

“For whatever reason, we don’t have it yet,” head coach Luke Walton said. “It takes more than that to win a game in this league. We can’t get satisfied or bored with playing a certain way. But we’ll get there.”

This time around, the purple and gold stunned the Heat (10-20) from the beginning, seizing an 11-0 lead despite missing the services of Larry Nance Jr. and Tarik Black due to injures, as well as Julius Randle, who flew back to L.A. for the birth of his son.

Instead, it was Timofey Mozgov leading the way, as he scored 10 points in the first quarter toward a 25-17 lead.

The Lakers continued to light it up in the second quarter, which they began with a four-point play by Nick Young, immediately followed by another 3-pointer from “Swaggy P.”

Soon after, L.A.’s lead expanded to 19 on a triple from Lou Williams — who led all payers with 27 points on the night.

But the Heat finally warmed up from there, embarking on a 14-2 run that brought the Lakers’ edge back down to seven.

The momentum had clearly spun around by then, as Miami brought its deficit to one within the opening minutes of the second half.

The Heat finally broke through at the end of the frame with 10 unanswered points led by Justise Winslow, who had six points, an assist and a steal in this stretch, giving them a 79-78 edge.

The Lakers kept it close for most of the final period, eventually tying the game at 99 with 4:18 left on a 3-pointer from Williams — who had 14 points in just the fourth. But Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson responded with back-to-back triples and Miami never relinquished its lead.

L.A. made half of its shots in the first half but hit just 38.1 percent in the second.

“It somehow just seems like we forgot what got us there,” said Young, who recorded his third straight 20-point game. “And (when) teams put that pressure on us, we just go into trying to play one-on-one. We’ve got to continue to play team ball and play smart.”

On the other end, Winslow racked up 23 points and 13 rebounds — both of which were career-highs — while the league’s leading rebounder, Hassan Whiteside, matched both of those figures.

Winslow also added four steals while fellow sophomore D’Angelo Russell had a hot-and-cold night, tallying 17 points and seven assists though also committing six turnovers.

And while Thomas Robinson pitched in eight points and a dozen rebounds (five offensive) in 18 minutes, the Lakers certainly missed Randle, Nance and Black, as Miami outscored them in the paint, 56-36.

The Heat were also hot from outside, shooting 53.6 percent from the field and 11-of-22 on 3-pointers while preventing the Lakers from winning in Miami for the ninth straight year.

“You want to be the aggressor whether you’re on defense or offense,” Walton said. “On offense, we’ve gotten pretty good at being the aggressor and putting people back on their heels. On defense right now, we really don’t put up much resistance.”

At halftime, Miami retired the jersey of Heat and Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal, who led both teams to four combined championships. … Brandon Ingram (four points, seven rebounds) started due to Randle’s absence, while Luol Deng (13 points, seven rebounds) moved up to power forward in first game against his former team. … Dragic (21 points) and James Johnson (19 points, eight rebounds, six assists) had impactful performances for Miami. … A sold-out crowd of 19,712 marched into AmericanAirlines Arena.