What happens when you take these 16-win Lakers, coming off a franchise-record 48-point loss to Utah, and immerse them in a locker-room controversy that required a pre-game press conference?
What Miami got Wednesday wasn’t roadkill, but instead a resilient, scrappy, high-effort opponent that dealt a surprising and painful 102-100 overtime loss to the Heat at Staples Center.
Julius Randle’s eight-foot jumper with 1.9 seconds left in overtime won it for Los Angeles. Joe Johnson was way off on a long three-pointer at the buzzer.
“I don’t like the way we approached this game,” Dwyane Wade. “It [stinks]. It’s a bad loss for us, no disrespect to them.”
Wade scored eight of his 26 points in the game’s final 2:45 of regulation, including a 15-foot turnaround that broke a tie with 29 seconds left. But Wade missed a 20-foot jumper with two seconds left that could have won the game in regulation.
The Heat ultimately was undone by 18 turnovers that led to 30 Lakers points, as well as 11 missed free throws in 26 attempts.
The Lakers’ young backcourt of Jordan Clarkson (26 points) and D’Angelo Russell (16 points) victimized the Heat down the stretch.
The Heat also was beaten to too many loose balls, surrendered 19 Lakers offensive rebounds, and lost to a team that shot 36.3 percent. The Lakers took 102 shots, 16 more than Miami.
Hassan Whiteside had 18 points, 17 rebounds and seven blocks but the Heat (43-31) failed in a chance to move up to third in the Eastern Conference. Its magic number to clinch a playoff berth remains two.
“You generally get what you deserve in this league,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We did not deserve this game. Any kind of effort play, [the Lakers] were winning those battles, especially in the second half. A lot of pain for getting beat to a lot of loose balls.
“Lot of mental breakdowns. This is not who we are. This is not how we’ve been playing.”
In the 20th and final meeting between Wade and Kobe Bryant — the two best shooting guards of the post-Michael Jordan era — the soon-to-be retiring Bryant played the first nine minutes, then never returned, sidelined by what the Lakers termed “general soreness.”
Bryant, who entered averaging 16.9 points and shooting just 35.7 percent this season, shot 1 for 7 and had shots blocked by Wade and Luol Deng during his brief stint.
“I wish he would have played more,” Spoelstra said.
Wade, who entered averaging 19.1 points on 45.3 percent shooting, finished with a double-double (26 points, 10 rebounds).
The Heat, down by as many as eight in the fourth, went ahead by two on Wade’s basket with under 30 seconds left in regulation. But Clarkson was fouled by Whiteside and hit both free throws with 19 seconds left. And Wade’s jumper was off just before the buzzer.
Fast forward to 2:05 left in overtime. With the score tied at 94, Whiteside hit a layup off a pass from Wade but missed a free throw, leaving the Heat ahead by two. Clarkson’s free throws tied it a 96.
Wade then hit a 10-foot floater to put Miami up two with 1:38 to go, but a Clarkson jumper tied it, Johnson missed an open three, and two Randle free throws put the Lakers up 100-98 with 1:04 left.
A Goran Dragic steal and Wade basket in transition tied the game with 22 seconds left, before Randle hit the winner with under two seconds left.
Wade said “we got the shot we wanted” at the buzzer, but Johnson was off.
“Joe shook free; I’ll take that [shot],” Spoelstra said.
Deng closed with 22 points and 11 rebounds and Dragic had 11 points and nine assists but also four turnovers. Johnson scored 10.
Whiteside, who scored just two in the first half, came alive offensively in the second.
But Josh Richardson, who entered leading the NBA in three-point shooting since the All-Star break, had a rare off game, finishing 0 for 8 from the field and 0 for 4 from beyond the arc, scoring his only point on a free throw in 30 minutes.
“First couple shots I missed, it got in my head a little bit,” Richardson said. “I can’t think as much as I was.”
The Heat, playing the first of three games in four nights, stuck with a tight eight-man rotation.
The Heat blew all of 25-10 lead early, went to halftime ahead 48-41, fell behind, then went to the fourth tied at 67, before digging itself an eight-point hole and then rallying to go ahead before succumbing in overtime.
“This was a bad loss for us,” Deng said. “They really crashed the boards. We’re not happy with the way we played.”
Wade said the team’s focus simply has to be better. “This ain’t the time of year” to have a letdown like this, Wade said. “This could come back to hurt us later.”
"I look at it as disrespect to those guys," Wade added. "Those guys are NBA players. You have to play the same way you would an opponent that you fear.”
Before the game, the Lakers tried to diffuse a swirling controversy stemming from a leaked video in which Russell filmed teammate Nick Young while Russell was asking questions about women other than Young’s fiancée, Iggy Azalea. Young did not know he was being taped.
Asked before Wednesday’s game whether he believes he put Young’s marriage in jeopardy, Russell said: “Honestly, I do.”
Russell was booed in pre-game introductions but cheered when he hit a first-quarter basket. Young did not play.
As for Bryant, he ended up playing 33 games against the Heat, averaging 23.8 points on 44.3 percent shooting.
“Just total amount of respect [for him],” Wade said afterward. “It’s hard to be great for so long.”