A drama-filled Wednesday for the Los Angeles Lakers provided a typical Hollywood ending to the night.
Second-year forward Julius Randle charged past Luol Deng and converted a tough eight-foot shot in the lane to provide the Lakers a late two-point lead in overtime. Miami's subsequent three-pointer would miss the mark, and LA won its 16th game of the season with Randle collecting his 33rd double-double of the season with 13 points and 14 rebounds, including the game winning bucket in overtime.
The Lakers beat the Heat, 102-100, on Wednesday night in front of a sold out Staples Center. Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant shared top billing in the final matchup between the pair of two-guards, but Bryant only lasted nine minutes due to a sore body.
"There was no hope tonight," Bryant laughed helplessly about his futile attempt to play.
Without Bryant able to move early, the Lakers fell behind by double digits early. Led by Lou Williams, LA's bench restored order and brought the home team within two points when the first quarter buzzer sounded.
The Lakers would taste the lead for a brief moment in the second quarter, but Hassan Whiteside's seven rebounds and five blocks helped put Miami ahead by seven points at the intermission. The third quarter served as a foreshadowing of the overtime period, as D'Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Randle combined for 18 of the Lakers’ 26 points in the quarter. Thanks to the young trio, the Lakers would enter the fourth period level at 67-67.
LA led for nearly all of the fourth quarter, and a young lineup of all first and second-year players, along with Roy Hibbert, appeared to be working until Wade decided to take over the ball game. The 34-year-old scored Miami's final four baskets of the fourth quarter but missed a 20-foot shot over Russell to win the game in regulation.
In overtime, LA's youth trio of Clarkson, Russell and Randle combined to score all 15 of the Lakers' points. Though Randle scored the game winning shot, Clarkson's 26 points led the team and tied Wade for game honors, though Clarkson scored his points on fewer shot attempts and in fewer minutes.
Following the game, Clarkson revealed that Russell had apologized to the team in the locker room prior to the game and disputed reports of the team shunning or isolating the 20-year-old. Bryant also made mention of Russell addressing the team, and Clarkson, Randle and Bryant sounded supportive of the former Ohio State Buckeye.
With only seven games remaining in his NBA career, Bryant leads the Lakers against the rival Boston Celtics one last time on Sunday. The long layoff in between games means the Lakers will take Thursday off from practice.
Notes: Former Lakers player Lamar Odom made his first appearance at an NBA game since falling into a coma in October of 2015. Bryant and Wade, who both played with Odom at different times in his career, urged the forward to come to the game. Bryant and Wade also met with Odom following the game.