Frank Vogel rolled out his 15th different starting lineup of the season with LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Kyle Kuzma out, in addition to the absence of Talen Horton-Tucker due to his one-game suspension. But while Andre Drummond was the only former All-Star to suit up for the Lakers on Thursday night, it was Kentavious Caldwell-Pope that had the standout stat line.
In the 39 minutes Caldwell-Pope played against the Heat, he scored a season-high 28 points on 11-20 shooting from the field and 6-11 shooting from behind the arc and posted a team-high plus-minus of +5.. He was only the only starter to finish the night with a positive plus-minus.
Caldwell-Pope was also the only Lakers starter with only one turnover. As a team, the Lakers turned the ball over 22 times, which was only two more than the Heat had, but the Heat scored 33 points off of the Lakers’ turnovers. That’s a battle you can’t lose when you don’t have either of your stars available.
Overall, though, it was a solid outing for the Lakers. The Heat only scored two more points than their season average and they shot a respectable percentage from 3-point range. Had Dennis Schröder been his usual self offensively, the game probably would have been even closer, which is saying something because the game was pretty close as is. It also didn’t help that Markieff Morris got ejected late in the fourth quarter. The Lakers have now had one of their players ejected in back-to-back games.
The Lakers will end the evening as the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference regardless of whether or not the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Utah Jazz on Thursday night. They would have liked to steal a win in Miami, though, because they have the Brooklyn Nets coming up on Saturday. James Harden won’t be available, but Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant will be. Life is unfair. Hopefully they’ll at least get a player or two back by then.