National Basketball Association
Miami at L.A. Lakers
When: 10:30 PM ET, Friday, March 16, 2018
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
The Miami Heat will very likely finish in the top eight of the Eastern Conference and advance to the postseason, but performances like Wednesday's won't get them much higher than the seventh or eighth spot. The Heat will try to avoid dropping back-to-back road games to lottery-bound opponents when they visit the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday.
Miami dropped the first two stops of the three-game trip and lost nine in a row overall on the road, capped by Wednesday's 123-119 overtime loss at Sacramento in which it came from 16 down to take a lead in the final minute of regulation before falling apart. "We need to start playing sooner," Heat All-Star guard Goran Dragic told reporters. "We cannot just turn the switch on and try to come back when we're down 16 or 12. Then (our) game needs to be perfect. Every possession needs to go your way. Tonight, we were not right. We allowed them to score close to 60 points in the first half. That's too much." The Lakers are winners of eight of their last 11 games and should be happy to return home after dropping a 117-106 decision at Golden State on Wednesday. Los Angeles won 12 of its last 13 at home, including wins over Cleveland and Denver this week.
10:30 p.m. ET, NBATV, FS Sun (Miami), Spectrum SportsNet (Los Angeles)ABOUT THE HEAT (36-33):
Miami allowed an average of 119 points in dropping the first two games of the road trip, and coach Erik Spoelstra was honest in his assessment of the team's defense. "We just weren't able to defend it the way we're capable of," Spoelstra told reporters. "A lot of middle drives. A lot of attack on pick and rolls. They also hit a lot of floaters in the paint. Those are not easy shots, not only for their bigs, but their guards. And then in the fourth quarter, we started to shut that down, as well. So, it just required a much great commitment throughout the course of the game." The Heat were missing defensive anchor Hassan Whiteside (hip) and did not have the offensive firepower to make up for his absence with Dwyane Wade (hamstring) and Josh Richardson (foot) also missing.
ABOUT THE LAKERS (31-37):
The Warriors were missing All-Stars Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green on Wednesday, and Los Angeles' inability to get around the injury-riddled group led to some frustration. Center Brook Lopez had to step in between a heated exchange in a huddle between power forward Julius Randle and guard Isaiah Thomas. "We expect a lot out of each other," Randle told reporters. "...It's just communicating. We want to win. We expect to win these games and we expect each other to play at a certain level, so it's just us being teammates, nothing personal."BUZZER BEATERS
1. Heat rookie C Bam Adebayo is 3-of-19 from the floor over the last two games.
2. Lakers rookie PF Kyle Kuzma (ankle) sat out Wednesday's game and is day-to-day.
3. Los Angeles breezed to a 131-113 win at Miami on March 1 as Thomas and Randle combined for 54 points.PREDICTION:
Heat 109, Lakers 107
Stats and Records