The Los Angeles Lakers looked to get back in the win column as they hosted the Miami Heat. Kobe Bryant would return to the Lakers after missing the previous two contests in which the team went 1-1.
The Heat have struggled this season, losing five of their last seven games, but recently got Chris Bosh back into the lineup. Bosh along with Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng form a very effective combination on both sides of the ball.
The Lakers are 6-4 against the Eastern Conference and 4-0 at home against them and will look to continue their solid play against the other half of the NBA. The Lakers come into the game at 12-26 while the Heat are 16-21.
The Heat started the game off with a bang as Mario Chalmers hit Chris Andersen for an alley-oop on the first possession. The Lakers would miss their first five shots and a Chalmers steal and assist to Anderson put the Heat up 8-0. A dunk from Hassan Whiteside put Miami up 10-0 five minutes into the game. Another turnover and fast break layup put the Lakers down 12-0. After 11 missed shots and three turnovers, the Lakers finally got a basket from Kobe Bryant with 4:22 remaining. The Heat immediately matched on the other end but Tarik Black got a tip-in as the Heat lead 20-4. Nick Young came in looking to end his recent slump as he got a layup and a three to cut the Heat lead to 11. Two more Young free throws cut the lead to 10 as the Lakers survived a rough quarter to remain surprisingly close, 22-12.
Mario Chalmers hit a floater to get things started for the Heat but Ryan Kelly matched him on the other end. The teams traded a couple of baskets, but a Chalmers layup and foul kept the Heat ahead 29-16. Black threw down a massive dunk, but the Lakers failed to get back on defense resulting in an easy layup for Wade. The Lakers were able to get a few baskets but struggled to get stops as the lead remained 13. The Lakers continued to battle and an Ed Davis offensive rebound and putback finally brought the Lakers within single digits with four minutes remaining. The Lakers couldn’t get the lead under eight and baskets by Bosh and Whiteside quickly put Miami back ahead by 12. The Lakers defense remained subpar, but the offense improved down the stretch. A Davis layup kept the Lakers deficit at 10 at halftime, 44-34.
The Lakers did not have a big drought to start the second half as Hill and Davis both got layups on beautiful pick-and-roll. A steal and Wesley Johnson layup cut the Heat lead to six. A Johnson assist to Davis for a dunk cut the lead to four and forced a Heat timeout. A Hill hook cut the lead to two but Andersen matched with a reverse layup on the other end. A three from Cole and a Deng layup put the Heat back up seven, but a vicious Ed Davis putback dunk cut it right back to five. Both teams cooled off for a few possessions. Former Laker Shawne Williams checked in and immediately hit a three to give Miami some breathing room with an eight point lead. A layup from Chalmers put the Heat back up by 11 as the Heat survived the Lakers’ run earlier in the quarter. Nick Young continued his slump, missing a couple other shots including a fast break dunk in which the ball slipped out of his hand. Two free throws from Black and a runner from Kelly ended the quarter for the Lakers as they trailed by eight.
Black made a nice move down low and Lin hit a tough fadeaway to get within four. Another Lakers forced turnover led to a layup and foul from Lin who would make the free throw to cut the deficit to one. An alley-oop to Andersen ended the Lakers 12-2 run and a Chalmers steal and layup put the Heat back up by six. Ryan Kelly hit a corner three to cut the lead in half, only the Lakers’ second make from deep. After both teams missed a few opportunities, Whiteside got a tip-in to make it a two possession game at 68-63 with five minutes remaining. Kobe checked back in and missed a jumper and threw the ball away on consecutive possessions. Another Whiteside layup put Miami up seven with only four minutes left. Hill hit a jumper to end the Lakers drought, but two Chalmers free throws kept Miami ahead by seven. Kobe finally got a huge three to fall to pull the Lakers to within four with under three minutes left. Kobe hit Johnson to cut the lead to two, but Bosh answered with a mid-range jumper. Ed Davis cleaned up a Kobe miss to get the Lakers within a basket again. Chalmers made a clutch layup and after another failed offensive possession, Chalmers scored again to put Miami up six with 30 seconds left. Kobe hit a huge three to cut the lead in half and the Lakers got a stop, but Kobe missed the last three to tie the game as the Lakers fell to the Heat 78-75.[divide]
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