Amid its most promising stretch of the season, Miami Heat will attempt to earn back-to-back victories in Los Angeles on Wednesday, while also trying for a season sweep of the Lakers in a span of a week.
The Heat have won four of their last five games in a run that includes a 112-98 victory at home over the Lakers last Wednesday and a 110-100 road victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday. Since dropping to 12-15 on December 10, with a loss to the tepid San Antonio Spurs, the Heat have won eight of their last 11 contests, including six of their last seven on the road.
The Heat received 31 points and 13 rebounds on Monday from Bam Adebayo as his hot stretch continued. Since last week’s victory over the Lakers, when Adebayo scored 23 points with 14 rebounds, the veteran has averaged 27.0 points and 10.5 rebounds over his last four games.
Miami won despite blowing a 21-point, second-quarter lead to the Clippers, who are known for making frantic comebacks. Tyler Herro helped stave off the Los Angeles rally with 23 points, although Miami shot just 34.1 percent from the field in the second half.
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“We had to scrap and fight back just to get a win,” Adebayo said on the Bally Sports Sun broadcast. “This West Coast trip is not easy and for us to let that (lead) slip, we can’t have that happen anymore.”
A late 7-0 run by the Heat pushed their lead back to 103-95 and they won by holding the Clippers to 17 points in the fourth quarter.
“I know I’ve said this before, but if you have a 20-point lead in the first half, you can’t think that’s just going to play out all the way through,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “... We’ve been developing some resilience, some collective toughness on the road to be able to withstand a lot of different runs.”
Collective toughness is something the Lakers are hoping to foster with forward Anthony Davis out indefinitely and LeBron James doing his best to instill it on the entire team.
Since a Christmas Day loss at Dallas, the Lakers have won three of four games, all on the road. The only defeat in that stretch was at Miami.
James, who turned 38 last week, is scoring 29.0 points per game on the season, 34.4 over his last 10 games and 45.0 per game over the last two contests. He had a season-best 47 points on his birthday in a victory at Atlanta, then followed that with 43 in a 121-115 victory at Charlotte on Monday. The Lakers went 3-2 on a mostly East Coast road swing to cap off the calendar year, after losing seven of 10 games before the trip began.
“I just always try to play the game and read the game the right way throughout the course of the 48 minutes,” James said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “But I just had a mindset of trying to close this trip off the right way. Two tough losses on this road trip, but the last two games we played extremely well. And we closed it off the right way.”
The Lakers open a stretch when they play seven of nine games at home.