Justise Winslow, Hassan Whiteside lift Miami Heat over Los Angeles Lakers

By Walter Villa, The Sports Xchange  |  Dec. 23, 2016 at 2:31 AM
share with facebook
share with twitter
| License Photo

MIAMI -- On a night in which the Miami Heat honored Shaquille O'Neal -- an oversized person and personality if ever there were one -- the franchise got two massive performances from building-block players.

Hassan Whiteside, who stamped himself as next in the line of standout Heat centers, a grouping that includes Shaq, Alonzo Mourning and Rony Seikaly, and second-year small forward Justise Winslow had 23 points and 13 rebounds each.

Those efforts, plus some fourth-quarter contributions from point guard Goran Dragic, helped Miami beat the Los Angeles Lakers 115-107 on Thursday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.

The Heat retired Shaq's No. 32 jersey during a long halftime ceremony, and Miami's players seized on that vibe, rallying from a 19-point second-quarter deficit.

"It was a great environment," said Winslow, who posted a career high in points and a season high in rebounds. "We knew the fans were going to be out here to see Shaq's jersey hanging. We knew it was going to electric, and we wanted to give them a show. It was a lot of fun playing in this arena tonight."

During the ceremony, Heat president Pat Riley spoke, and the team brought Shaq's mom, Lucille O'Neal, onto the court while riding a miniature version of the 18-wheel truck that her son once drove into town.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, whose team trailed by seven points at halftime, said Miami got an emotional lift from listening to Shaq's acceptance speech as his jersey was lifted to the rafters.

"It was like going down memory lane. It felt like 2006," said Spoelstra, referring to the year Shaq led Miami to its first NBA title. "Shaq engaged the entire crowd with incredible class.

"Our players were sitting there with eyes wide open. They saw a vision of what we're trying to build and what the arena is like when you have a legitimate championship-contending team. It was a special presentation."

Whiteside continues to have a special season. He got his sixth straight double-double and his 23rd this season, the latter mark tying him for the NBA lead with Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder and James Harden of the Houston Rockets.

Miami (10-20) snapped a three-game losing streak, with all of those defeats coming at home.

Dragic was having a subpar game until he scored eight straight Heat points, a 58-second run that started with 5:01 left in the fourth quarter. He finished with 21 points and seven assists.

The Lakers (11-21), who lost for the 11th time in the past 12 games, were led by Lou Williams, who came off the bench to score 27 points, and Nick Young, who added 20 points.

Williams didn't have much to say when asked about the Lakers' issues, especially late in games.

"Play four quarters," Williams said. "We have to start there."

Miami got excellent production from its top two reserves, James Johnson, who had 19 points, and Tyler Johnson, who added 14 points.

Still, it took Miami nearly five minutes to score a point as the Lakers took an 11-0 lead on six points by Timofey Mozgov and five by D'Angelo Russell. By the end of the first quarter, Mozgov had 10 points, and the Lakers held a 25-17 lead.

"We got off to a slow start," James Johnson said, "but we're resilient."

That was evident in the second quarter as the Lakers built its 19-point lead only to have Miami cut the deficit to 60-53 at the half.

The Heat then went on a 13-2 third-quarter run, capped by a Winslow bucket, to grab its first lead of the game at 79-78. By the end of the third, Miami increased its advantage to 82-80.

Miami dominated the fourth quarter as the Lakers seemed to lose their fight, a feeling that disappointed coach Luke Walton.

"I'm a little confused myself why we're not able to put together 48 minutes," Walton said. "The first half was great. We shared the ball. We got stops. We communicated. But it takes more than that to win games, and, for whatever reason, we don't have it yet.

"Maybe we're missing something. If you have suggestions, let me know, and we'll take them into consideration."

NOTES: Miami finished its homestand 3-3. ... Heat C Hassan Whiteside and Lakers F Thomas Robinson were each hit with technical fouls early in the fourth quarter following a brief skirmish. ... Lakers starting PF Julius Randle missed the game as he was with his fiancee, who was due to give birth to their first child. ... Lakers backup PF Larry Nance Jr. (knee) also missed the game. ... The Lakers will unveil a 9-foot Shaquille O'Neal statue on March 24 at Staples Center, before a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. ... SF Luol Deng, who started 146 games for Miami the past two years, is now a Lakers starter. He scored 13 points Thursday. ... The Heat had three injured perimeter players on the sideline: Wayne Ellington (hamstring), Rodney McGruder (ankle) and Dion Waiters (groin). All three have started games for Miami this season. ... Lakers PG Jose Calderon (hamstring) is out two to four weeks. ... Lakers C Tarik Black (left ankle) sat out his second straight game.

Related UPI Stories
Trending Stories
Loading...