Lakers blow a 19-point lead and lose to the Heat, 115-107
Each Miami Heat run took something out of the Lakers on Thursday night. Each time the lead the Lakers built started to dissipate, they forgot what they’d done to get that lead.
In the penultimate game of their nearly two weeks on the road, the Lakers lost to the Heat, 115-107.
The Lakers (11-21) have lost all but one game in December, and 12 of their last 13.
“It don’t help when you’re losing every other night, one out of the last 10 or something like that,” Lakers guard Nick Young said. “Start thinking too much. We just gotta remember what got us here. … It sucks, we’re supposed to put the nail in the coffin when we’ve got teams down by . We’ve gotta keep going. Last two games we gave it away.”
Thursday night’s game revived familiar themes.
Once again, the Lakers frittered away a 19-point lead they built during the first half, just as they had two nights before in Charlotte.
Once again, the Lakers allowed an opponent to score at will: The Heat shot better than 53% and outscored the Lakers in the paint, 56-36.
Back-to-back three-pointers by the Heat gave them a six-point lead with 3:16 to go in the game.
With those shots, another refrain. The Heat became the Lakers’ 12th December opponent to score more than 100 points and all of them beat the Lakers.
“I’m a little confused myself why we’re not able to put together 48 minutes,” Lakers Coach Luke Walton said. “We do play better when we give up leads. We kind of start fighting and scrapping. Instead of playing good in the first half, if we start throwing the first half, maybe we’ll come out in the second half with a little more fight in us and we’ll be able to win some of these games down the stretch.”
Heat center Hassan Whiteside and forward Justise Winslow each scored 23 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. While the Lakers wanted to foul Whiteside if he beat them in the paint, they did so for only six free throw attempts.
Lou Williams led the Lakers with 27 points and Nick Young had 20 with the best plus/minus rating of the team with 10.
The Lakers played without starting power forward Julius Randle, who returned to Los Angeles for the birth of his son.
Still, the Lakers opened the game with an 11-0 run, not allowing the Heat to score until Winslow hit a turnaround jumper more than four minutes into the game.
The Lakers built a 19-point lead in the second quarter, but immediately afterward the Heat strengthened their resolve. Miami went on a 14-2 run that cut the Lakers lead to seven at the half.
“Just gotta get out of panic mode,” Young said. “When we see teams making runs and see the lead cut from  to 7, we just gotta stay poised and run the offense.”
Another run gave the Heat their first lead of the game, that one a 13-2 run to end the third quarter.
With 3:03 left in the game, Luol Deng made a three-pointer to bring the Lakers within three, but that was the last field goal for the Lakers.
Early in the season, this wasn’t the Lakers’ problem. They struggled defensively back then too, but they typically started slow. The usual recipe for the Lakers was a slow start before their second unit swooped in to get things back on track.
The Lakers developed a reputation as a plucky young group coming from behind regularly to stay competitive or even win games.
Now they are allowing opponents’ runs to snowball.
After the game, their most veteran player made that point in the locker room.
“We don’t respond well,” Lakers forward Thomas Robinson said. “Metta [World Peace] brought that up. Sometimes guys’ body language drops, and confidence comes down.
“We don’t look as live once somebody comes back on us in the fourth quarter. … We’ve gotta realize that’s when it becomes fun.”
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli
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