In the first game of a back-to-back set, the Los Angeles Lakers sauntered into South Beach to play the Miami Heat without their aging superstar Kobe Bryant.
Bryant was a late scratch, as he elected to take the day off to rest. However, after the contest, Bryant admitted that his back has been feeling tender which turns out to be the reason he sat out tonight.
“I had trouble walking,” Bryant said about his back issue.
Therefore with Bryant out, it was time for the young guys to shine and display their talent. Unfortunately, the Lakers got off to yet another slow start, which is becoming a common theme for this team.
The Lakers trailed by as many as 11 late in the first stanza, but the bench unit quickly turned the tide when they checked into the game.
Soon as the second period started, Nick Young caught fire and drilled three consecutive threes in a little over two minutes to narrow the gap. He tacked on two more baskets after that to mount a 14-point second quarter to help his team cut the deficit to one at halftime.
But the second half was a completely different story, as the Heat thoroughly dominated the Lakers behind brilliant play from Chris Bosh.
The 10-time All-Star put the team on his back and poured in 30 points coupled with 11 boards on 9 of 16 shooting, while teammate Dwyane Wade struggled with his shot, scoring 12 points on 5 of 14 shooting.
The Lakers were a plus-18 from three-point territory, but their 18 turnovers led to their collapse. The Lakers seemingly couldn’t execute in the second half, coughing up the ball far too often which led to 25 Miami points on the other end.
“We aren’t doing what we work on,” said Julius Randle, who finished the night with seven points, seven rebounds, and four assists. “We’re going to have to throw our egos out the way. We’re going to have to gel as a team.” (via Serena Winters)
Young, who was sizzling in the first half, drastically cooled down in the second, concluding with 17 points which was still a team-high. Following suit was Lou Williams who put up 14 points, four rebounds, and three assists.
Metta World Peace, who earned the start in place of Bryant, had an astounding game, scoring 14 points while netting all four of his triples. The 15-year veteran has been a pleasant surprise for the Lakers, providing defensive energy and making timely baskets.
Hassan Whiteside continued his stellar start to the season by delivering a huge double-double with 19 points and 15 rebounds in only 27 minutes. He also rejected three shots and altered a handful of others.
Whiteside’s development has been amazing, as the seven-footer has established a solid low post game and has asserted himself as a genuine rim protector, becoming one of the most intimating paint defenders in the league.
While Whiteside is headed in an upwards direction, starting point guard Goran Dragic is currently freefalling. The shooting slump continued for the Slovenian, as he shot a mere 2 of 10 for four points.
Behind Whiteside and Bosh, the Heat also dominated the rebounding, 47-36, and grabbed 15 offensive rebounds compared to L.A.’s five.
Since Bryant was out, Coach Byron Scott was forced to insert Marcelo Huertas back into the rotation. The Brazilian didn’t perform too well, but did have a sweet no-look pass to Larry Nance Jr. in transition.
Bryant is not expected to play tomorrow night in Orlando when the team faces off against the Magic, as he will sit out to rest his ailing back.
In the meantime, he has witnessed his team now drop to 1-6 on the season, while the Heat has improved to 5-3.
As the Lakers are back in action tomorrow night, the Heat will get the day off then host the Utah Jazz on Thursday, November 12.