Getting to win No. 30 was anything but easy for the Lakers Sunday evening at STAPLES, but thanks to a key put-back with 18.5 seconds remaining from Andrew Bynum – not to mention Vladimir Radmanovic’s best game as a starter – the Lakers pulled out a tight one over a pesky Miami Heat squad.
After Bynum’s bucket, Chris Quinn missed a wide-open triple that would have given Miami the lead, and the Lakers sealed the victory with two free throws each from Radmanovic and Kobe Bryant.
On a night in which Bryant and Pau Gasol combined to shoot just 9-of-29 (31 percent) and Trevor Ariza contributed only two points in 14 minutes, Bynum hit his season-high in points (24) while Radmanovic contributed 18 points and seven boards.
In fact, let’s take a closer look at Vladi: In his last three starts, (New Orleans, Golden State, Indiana) Radmanovic had managed just 11 total points on 4-of-15 shooting, seven rebounds, three assists, three steals and no blocks. On Sunday, his line read like this: 17 points on 6-of-10 including four threes, seven boards, two steals, an assist and a block.
Vladi said it simply took him a few games to get into a rhythm after not playing more than a token minute here and there for the better part of a month (fair enough), prior to Luke Walton’s foot injury. Of course, Lamar Odom (knee) and Jordan Farmar (knee) remain out, which made Radmanovic’s effort ever more important.
“Vladi was a game winner for us out there tonight,” said Phil Jackson. “You know he did something offensively that gave (us) momentum in the fourth quarter.”
Dwyane Wade led the Heat with 27 points and nine assists, while rookie and No. 2 overall pick Michael Beasley was a sparkling 8-of-10 in the second half en route to 23 points in just 22 minutes.
In other number news:
Miami’s biggest lead of the evening. The Lakers led by as many as 13 in a game that saw the lead change 12 times.
Free throws made by the Heat, important for the Lakers since Miami’s 17-of-24 in Florida was a key to their December victory.
Assists for Derek Fisher, setting a personal season high. L.A.’s point guard added three steals, 13 points and five boards in a solid 42 minutes.
Gasol’s career- and season-high tying rebound number, including eight on the offensive glass. As a team, the Lakers grabbed 17 offensive boards, though they were able to convert only 16 second-chance points.
Points in the paint for the Lakers, who even with Gasol struggling (4-for-15) were much more effective in feeding the post after the Heat effectively fronted the post in Miami. Bynum’s 24 points were most indicative on this front.
L.A.’s three-point shooting percentage, thanks in part to Vladi’s 4-of-7 and Sasha Vujacic’s 2-of-2 as the team went 9-of-17. Vujacic added 10 points off the bench, plus eight from Josh Powell.
Rebounds by the Lakers, compared with 38 for the Heat. The big board edge helped offset L.A.’s 17 turnovers, as the Heat had only 10.