The Los Angeles Lakers came up with their biggest win of the 2021-22 season so far, beating the Miami Heat 120-117 in a thrilling overtime finish at Staples Center.
The two teams were evenly matched for the entire night, with both teams trading the lead and no one taking a double-digit lead at any point. The Heat looked like they were on the way to a victory in the fourth quarter when they went up by as many as nine, but the Lakers battled back to force the extra period.
It was a wild finish as Miami missed several pivotal free throws while Los Angeles was called for a five-second violation that gave the Heat a chance to tie the game and send it into a second overtime. However, the Lakers got bailed out when Tyler Herro missed a wide-open three and escaped with the victory.
Head coach Frank Vogel was impressed with his team’s showing and praised them for earning the hard-fought win.
“It was a great fight,” Vogel said after the game. “We’re undermanned, we’re learning each other. We played a really good team, some would say the best in the league, or best in the East. Our guys competed. We challenged them to do better at halftime on the defensive side of the ball. I thought they rose to that challenge and we just gutted out a tough win.”
After a lackluster loss to the Portland Trail Blazers last weekend, Vogel gave the Lakers credit for how they have looked since in winning back-to-back overtime games.
“We’re sticking together. That was a tough night. We didn’t play well. We got our butts kicked. Our group leans on one another. We have a good process of having a growth mindset, and we work on where we went wrong. Stay together, understand the big picture, and push it forward. I thought our attitude after that game was wonderful. A lot of guys wanted to do better.
“The coaching staff raising the bar with accountability, saying that’s not acceptable. We had a shoot around that morning [morning of the Charlotte game]. We don’t typically have shootarounds. We had contact and we worked. This groups going to be alright. It’s a little bumpy early, but we believe we’re going to do special things this year, so it was a great response the last two games.”
Los Angeles was already facing an uphill climb before the game against Miami as Rajon Rondo and Austin Reaves were late scratches, joining LeBron James on the bench. With only 10 active players, everyone on the Lakers roster stepped up, particularly Malik Monk and Avery Bradley, who picked up their scoring slack.
Monk had his best game as a Laker after scoring 27 points, including several go-ahead and clutch baskets in the fourth quarter and overtime while Bradley was a two-way force throughout the night. Meanwhile, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook combined for 49 points and looked every part as the superstars the Purple and Gold need them to be.
This was the exact type of win the Lakers needed and hopefully it acts as the springboard they need to get through this next stretch in their schedule.
Vogel pleased with improvements on glass
In games against good teams, the Lakers will need to win on the margins in order to pull out victories. Vogel admitted they did not start the season out well at making winning plays but believes the win against the Heat was a step in the right direction.
He specifically pointed to the work they did on the defensive glass, which was poor in the first half but much stronger to close out there game.
“Well they’re being pushed on it because we’re not doing those things instinctually. We’re not hitting people well enough and pursuing and getting the loose balls and our guys are being challenged in that regard. We’re making progress with the low man and we have setbacks. The first half, it was very poor. Second half or at halftime, we challenged them on that end of the glass and far better in the second half and far better with a commitment to hit people and to gang rebound. So this group is being pushed and they’re responding.”
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