Leading up to tonight’s game, there was a lot of chatter about Kobe Bryant and whether or not he will sit out during back-to-backs. After Kobe indicated that he would like to play in all 82 games this season, Coach Byron Scott put an end to that notion when he decided to sit Kobe tonight against the Miami Heat.
This comes as a bit of a surprise, because the general consensus was that Kobe would sit on the second night of back-to-backs this season. Tonight is the first game of a back-to-back against the Heat and the Lakers will face the Orlando Magic tomorrow night, where Kobe is expected to play. In place of Kobe in the starting line-up is Metta World Peace, who will look to set the tone defensively from the tip.
Mehta World Peace starts the game by blocking Dwyane Wade’s layup, but it ended up in the hands of Hassan Whiteside, who converted the open jumper. After D’Angelo Russell drilled a jumper from the free throw line, the Heat answered with a 13-2 run, giving them a 15-4 advantage just four minutes into the contest. World Peace got his second block of the night and ignited the fast break where Clarkson finished in traffic. World Peace caught the ball from Russell off the pick-and-roll, then dished the ball to Hibbert down low for the dunk. The next two Heat possessions, the Lakers failed to grab the defensive rebounds, and allowed second chance points on both possessions. Soon after the defensive breakdowns, the Lakers played 24 seconds of good defense and forced the Heat into a shot clock violation. The ensuing Lakers possession Clarkson made a jump shot off of the pick-and-roll to cut their deficit to nine points with 3:41 remaining in the quarter. After a goaltending call on Clarkson, Lou Williams drew a foul on a three-point attempt and knocked down two out of the three free throws. The next Lakers possession, Williams found Larry Nance Jr. diving down the lane, and Nance hammered the dunk. With the last possession of the quarter, Williams made a three-pointer, cutting the Heat lead to 29-23.
Nick Young began the second quarter with back-to-back threes from each corner, and the Lakers only trailed by two points. The Heat converted a free throw, but Young came down on the other end and nailed another three to knot the game up at 32 apiece. Young made another jumper on the next possession to give the Lakers the lead, giving him the first 11 points of the quarter. After a Nance Jr. baseline jumper, Young scored yet again on a pull-up three in transition, giving the Lakers the lead 39-33. The Heat scored eight straight and their run was capped off with a Wade to Whiteside alley-oop. Julius Randle responded with an aggressive move on the offensive end, drawing a foul, but failing to convert the three-point opportunity. World Peace gave the Lakers the lead again after making an open three with 4:30 remaining in the half. The Heat went on to score seven unanswered points, giving them the 48-44 lead. World Peace halted the run with yet another three-pointer with about a minute left in the half. The Lakers and Heat exchanged baskets to end the half, but the Heat lead the Lakers 50-49 at halftime.
Randle started the half with a jumper from the elbow after freezing Chris Bosh with a jab step. Bosh responded with six unanswered points of his own to start the half, giving the Heat a 56-51 advantage. Russell showed some aggressiveness on offense as he drove past Goran Dragic for the floater in the lane. World Peace knocked down another three, to cut the deficit to just three points with 6:17 remaining in the third. Hassan Whiteside continued to dominate the paint, scoring in the post, giving him 17 points and 15 rebounds. After a block by Whiteside and a layup on the other end, the Heat extended their lead to nine points, forcing Byron Scott to call a timeout with 4:01 remaining in the third. World Peace halted the Heat run with yet another corner three-pointer, but the Lakers still trailed by eight points. The Lakers struggled to hold onto the ball committing turnover after turnover in the third quarter and ended the quarter down 75-66.
The Lakers got a couple of stops to start the quarter before Williams got them on the board with a layup. Huertas hit Nance in transition for an easy basket, but an outstanding three-point play from Tyler Johnson put Miami ahead by 10. The offense continued to struggle as Miami strengthened their lead on a Winslow layup and led 84-72 with just under eight minutes remaining. Things got worse as the Lakers turnover issues continued to plague them and a Bosh three capped a 9-0 Heat run as the lead ballooned to 17. A pair of free throws and a three from Lou briefly stopped the bleeding, but the Lakers remained down by 13 with four and a half minutes left. That was as good as things got as Deng hit a three and a layup on an embarrassing Lakers defensive breakdown. Anthony Brown came in during garbage time for only his second appearance of the season. The rest of the game was academic as the Lakers fell in Miami 101-88.