Julius Randle was quick to note that he hit a game-winner against the Miami Heat at Staples Center in his second season, but it isn’t often the Lakers draw up a play for their power forward. That responsibility usually goes to Brandon Ingram.
Friday night, though, Ingram didn’t play because of a groin strain that has kept him out for more than two weeks. Randle, as he has throughout Ingram’s absence and beyond, took much of the game on his shoulders.
But the Heat were prepared for that. On the final play of the game, they doubled Randle so he couldn’t get the ball. Isaiah Thomas attempted a step-back jumper with three seconds left and missed.
“I’ve made that plenty of times, step-backs left or right,” Thomas said. “I’m happy with the separation I got and the shot I got it just didn’t fall.”
The Heat beat the Lakers 92-91, handing the Lakers just their second home loss in their last 14 home games. Miami was led by guard Goran Dragic, who scored 30 points.
With the loss, the Lakers fell to 31-38 while the Heat improved to 37-33. Julius Randle led the Lakers with 25 points and 12 rebounds while Brook Lopez added 18. Travis Wear, who is on his second 10-day contract with the Lakers, scored 11 points.
“They were tougher than we were tonight, which is really frustrating,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said.
The Lakers’ 20 turnovers and their pace of play also frustrated Walton. The last game between these two teams was fast-paced (and the Lakers won in a rout), but this one was much slower. The Heat, in fact, took 18 more shots than the Lakers.
Kyle Kuzma is learning early in his career the trope that nobody’s fully healthy at this time of year.
On a sprained ankle he strengthened his position as Lakers franchise leader in three-pointers made by a rookie, making one with 1:23 left in the game. It was his 132nd three-pointer this season. It gave the Lakers their first lead since 9:16 left in the game.
Wearing a stimulating boot after the game, Kuzma said he didn’t even know that was a record. In fact, the record was so obscure that nobody noticed he actually set it Tuesday as he made five against the Denver Nuggets.
The Lakers announced the record Friday.
Just after Randle missed a hook shot with 23.4 seconds left in the game, Dragic raced back down the court for a 10-foot jumper that took away the Lakers’ hard-fought lead.
The last time Dragic was here it was as a member of the All-Star team about one month ago.
On Friday night he scored 30 points, on 10-for-18 shooting, and felled the Lakers.
Thomas had one last chance, but missed a jumper with three seconds left in the game.
The Lakers entered the game having won 12 of their last 13 home games. Their only loss in that span came to the Portland Trail Blazers, a team whose record is the third best in the Western Conference.
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli