Lots of drama accompanied the Lakers’ 14th win of the season.
The Miami Heat were shorthanded, missing Hassan Whiteside and Justise Winslow, both of whom had big nights against the Lakers in the teams’ first meeting. Still, neither record nor injury status has been an accurate predictor of results for the Lakers.
Friday’s win still represented a step forward.
Here are five takeaways from the game:
1. Luol Deng had perhaps his best game as a Laker as he gets increasingly more comfortable in the offense. On Friday he had 19 points and 14 rebounds with a plus/minus rating of 32. “When I agreed to come here, the idea was this is going to be a process, so the main thing is really sticking with it,” Deng said. “Once you start winning you start trusting in the system and trusting each other. I think we're heading in that direction.”
2. The Lakers outscored the Heat, 68-48, in the paint, which was a point of emphasis for them before the game. This is an area in which Whiteside and Winslow’s being absent changed things. But, again, the execution of their plan is still worth noting.
3. Luke Walton didn’t say it exactly, but he didn’t seem to think that Goran Dragic and Jordan Clarkson deserved ejections. Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra vehemently objected to Dragic’s ejection. Here’s what he said: “It's really shameful, disgraceful that Goran Dragic got thrown out of that game. 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 of that situation for just taking an elbow to the face and getting up, not even necessarily defending himself, just getting up. But, at that point, it's an eight-point game and we just pretty much let it go from there. I don’t know if it would have made a difference, but he is our best player. And having him go down with us down the stretch, it's probably a possession game.”
4. By the time Metta World Peace checked into the game the result was inevitable, so the fans at Staples Center were already pleased. When they saw him walk toward the scorer’s table to check in, they stood up and cheered. Every time he committed one of his three fouls in a little over a minute, they cheered more. After the game, Walton said it's “crazy” that World Peace has become a role model, but his impact on the rest of the team is something Walton wants and likes.
5. Tarik Black also had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Those 11 rebounds marked a season high for Black.