The Miami Heat conclude a four-game homestand on Wednesday, hosting a Los Angeles Lakers team at the midpoint of a pivotal five-game road swing.
Los Angeles won the second game of its road trip Tuesday, snapping a four-game skid with a 129-110 rout of Orlando.
Russell Westbrook went for a triple-double of 15 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists.
“I have a responsibility when I have the ball in my hands to make guys better,” Westbrook said in his postgame interview with Spectrum SportsNet. “I take pride in that.”
LeBron James scored 28 points despite shooting 0-of-7 from beyond the 3-point arc. Thomas Bryant scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, Troy Brown Jr. scored 15 points, Patrick Beverley added 14 points and Lonnie Walker IV chipped in 10.
The win marked a significant turnaround from the defensive woes that had plagued the Lakers over the previous four games, including the trip-opening loss Christmas Day at Dallas. The 124-115 defeat capped a stretch of the Lakers allowing 130.5 points per game over the four-game skid.
In each of its last seven losses, Los Angeles has given up at least 122 points. The Lakers have not allowed more than 119 points in any of their last five wins, dating back to Dec. 4.
The Lakers remain without Anthony Davis due to a stress injury in his right foot. Davis is averaging 27.4 points, 12.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocked shots per game.
“There’s nothing you can do to fill the void of Anthony Davis, especially the year he’s had,” Beverley told the Los Angeles Times. “You have to do it collectively.”
Miami, meanwhile, overcame the absences of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, as well as a lackluster 47-of-102 shooting, to down Minnesota 113-110 on Monday.
The Heat forced the Timberwolves into 22 turnovers, including a win-sealing steal by Victor Oladipo that denied Minnesota an opportunity at an overtime-forcing basket. Its defense, coupled with a balanced scoring effort that saw nine players score at least seven points, powered Miami to its first win in three games.
Max Strus led the way with 19 points, including 5-of-10 shooting from 3-point range on a night Miami collectively shot less than 27 percent from outside.
“We’ve had a lot of moving parts,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, referring to Miami’s multitude of injuries this season. “Basically everybody on our roster has experienced those clutch moments.”
Miami’s roster uncertainty starts with the four-time All-NBA honoree Butler, whose absence on Monday marked his 13th game missed this season. Butler came out of the Heat’s three-point loss last Friday to Indiana with a sprained ankle that has him listed as day-to-day.
As for Adebayo, Monday was just his fourth missed contest in what has been a career-best scoring season at 20.8 points per game. He was scratched from the lineup against Minnesota due to a non-COVID illness and is considered day-to-day.
–Field Level Media