Lakers looking to stay motivated

The Los Angeles Lakers have already been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. And with just eight games to go in the regular season, the team is looking for ways to stay motivated through the stretch run.

Forward Brandon Ingram, who just returned from a groin injury that’s kept him out since March 1, said he felt somewhat disappointed that the team could no longer make the playoffs. But despite that, he and the rest of the Lakers are focusing on how they can keep their momentum going over the final eight games of the year, seven of which are in Staples Center.

“I didn’t lose sleep over it,” Walton said of being eliminated from the playoffs at Wednesday’s shootaround. “I’ve said all year: It’s about the journey we’re on and where we’re trying to get to. Obviously we wanna make the playoffs, but it’s part of the reason why we don’t talk about it all the time. Because now that we haven’t made it, we still have other goals we’re trying to reach and we still have other things we’re trying to do. I would expect our players to come in and play just as hard even though we can’t make the playoffs now.”

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Turnovers bury Lakers in 92-91 loss to Heat

LOS ANGELES — It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t perfect. And the Los Angeles Lakers still had a chance to pull it off.

But Isaiah Thomas missed a jump shot with 3.5 seconds left, and the Lakers lost to the Miami Heat 92-91 on Friday night at Staples Center.

“They were tougher than we were tonight,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said, “which is really frustrating.”

The Lakers committed 20 turnovers and scored less than 100 points for the first time since Jan. 19. Miami committed only 11 turnovers.

“I didn’t even know we had that many,” Julius Randle said.

Walton was clearly frustrated after the game, and pointed to sloppy passing as the main culprit to Los Angeles giving the ball away as much as it did.

“We were telegraphing our passes, we were passing out of motion, they were getting deflections,” Walton said. “We couldn’t even make a post past tonight, which is basic fundamentals of passing.”

Randle had 25 points and 12 rebounds, while Brook Lopez added 18 points on 4 of 5 shooting from the 3-point line. Travis Wear contributed 11 points.

Goran Dragic led the Heat with 30 points, while Kelly Olynyk scored 17 points off the bench.

The Heat opened a six-point lead with 7:30 remaining in the game, and an 88-81 advantage with 5:51 left. The Lakers scored five straight points to pull within 88-86 with 3:30 left in the game.

Kyle Kuzma returned from an ankle injury and scored 11 points while also pulling down eight rebounds. He scored on a layup while falling to the ground and got up with a heavy limp. Moments later, his 3-pointer with 1:23 remaining gave Los Angeles a 91-90 lead.

Dragic slithered in the paint and scored to give Miami a 92-91 lead with 15.2 seconds remaining. It was his only basket of the fourth quarter.

“He hit really timely shots,” Kuzma said of Dragic, who had 22 points in the first half. “We couldn’t contain him all night. Kudos to him.”

Heat opened the third quarter with a 6-0 run that forced Los Angeles into an early timeout. The Lakers responded with with an 15-5 run capped by dunks from Lopez and Caldwell-Pope for a 65-61 lead.

Tyler Ennis tied the game at 28 with a jump shot. Randle gave the Lakers a 46-45 lead with an and-1 opportunity with less than 3 minutes remaining in the half. Lakers went on an 8-0 run to take a 48-45 lead with 1:33 left in the half.

Kuzma said the Lakers turned the ball over too much.

“We just were careless,” Kuzma said. “I don’t really know what it was. You would think it’d be a road game. That’s usually what we do on the road, not at home.”

Lopez called the 20 turnovers “the stat of the game.”

“I think as well as they played,” Lopez said, “we kinda did ourselves in in that regard.”

NOTES

Heat: Outscored the Lakers 18-7 in second-chance points.

Lakers: Were outscored 50-44 in the paint, where they have led the league for much of the season.

UP NEXT

Heat: Host the Denver Nuggets on Monday.

Lakers: At the Indiana Pacers on Monday.

Lopez sinks clutch free throws to beat Magic 108-107

LOS ANGELES — With 0.6 seconds remaining and the Lakers down by one, Brook Lopez marched up to the free throw-line after getting fouled. His mission, should he choose to accept it, was to make two free throws to seal a victory over the Orlando Magic.

Lopez calmly made the first, then lathered, rinsed and repeated for a 108-107 victory over the Magic at Staples Center.

“I knew I was gonna hit them,” Lopez said.

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Lakers lose late lead to end nine-game home winning streak

LOS ANGELES — The Lakers led by 11 with less than six minutes remaining, but then Damian Lillard happened.

Lillard scored 19 of his game-high 39 points in the fourth quarter and helped the Portland Trail Blazers end the Lakers’ nine-game home win streak with a 108-103 victory on Monday night.

“Damian Lillard was pretty impressive down the stretch there,” Walton said.

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