Lakers Keep It Close But Fall Short Against Miami At Staples

Kobe Bryant focusedThe Lakers were having a pretty decent week coming into this game against Miami. First off, they snapped their six-game losing streak when they beat the Cavaliers on Sunday. In that game, Dwight Howard made his return after being sidelined by an injured shoulder. And then on Tuesday, they blew out the Milwaukee Bucks to get their second straight win.

Earlier on Thursday, the Lakers got the news that Pau Gasol was ready to go against the Miami Heat (albeit off the bench). And then later in the day, Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard were revealed as starters for the All-Star team in the West. So it had been a pretty good week for the Lakers going into their game against the Heat. Did the Lakers beat the defending champions? Let’s check out the recap!

1ST QUARTER

The Lakers started off… well… really badly. They turned the ball over early and often and it led to many, many dunks by the flying death machine known as the Miami Heat. Four quick rim-rattlers got the Heat off to an 8-2 start.

 

But the Lakers played some good halfcourt defense. The Heat missed their first nine baskets outside of dunking. So even though we saw a dunk show from the Heat early on, a Kobe Bryant dunk and a Steve Nash jumper gave the Lakers a 13-12 lead.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uipi8PgjSOA

However, the Lakers couldn’t take care of the ball and had a hard time stopping either LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Pau Gasol entered the game with about 3:30 left and made a jumper off a pick-and-roll with Steve Nash almost immediately. But the Lakers not being able to hold on to the ball and not able to clamp LeBron and Wade down were very glaring.

The Heat led the Lakers, 26-22. But more telling? The Lakers turned the ball over eight times in the first period.

2ND QUARTER

The Lakers continued to turn the ball over but the Heat couldn’t convert any baskets when not forcing L.A. to cough it up. The Lakers then went for a big frontcourt of Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, and Earl Clark. It seemed to pay dividend early as Gasol made two buckets and Clark made a three. Wait. What?

 

He has been good lately, yes.

The Heat couldn’t seem to score in the halfcourt as the Lakers played some good D. Somehow, the Lakers took the lead after Antawn Jamison made a three-point play. But that lead was erased quickly as the Lakers kept giving it away.

Still, the Heat’s quickness couldn’t match up with the Lakers’ size. Miami couldn’t convert anything with the game slowed down while Dwight Howard dominated inside in terms of scoring and the glass (eight rebounds by Howard in the first half). And strangely enough, the Lakers were able to wrest the lead away from Miami.

Despite 16 turnovers by the Lakers, L.A. led the Heat, 45-44, in one of the more strange halves of the season.

3RD QUARTER

The Lakers started off the second half with, you guessed it, another turnover. In one moment, we were reminded that (or wondering if) Dwight Howard still wasn’t 100 percent. Instead of dunking, he went for a weak lay-up that didn’t go into the basket.

 

A spry Dwyane Wade would score five straight points to give the Heat a 52-49 lead. While Kobe did tie the game with a three, he continued to have problems making baskets.

Wade and Bron would take over with their brilliant playmaking and shottaking. But Antawn Jamison quickly scored six straight points. The Heat would face a conundrum as they had three players with four fouls each (Shane Battier, Udonis Haslem, Mario Chalmers) in the third quarter.

But LeBron James polished off a 9-2 run by scoring five consecutive points. At the end of three, the Heat led, 73-65. Even though the Lakers turned the ball over relatively less in the third (three), Kobe’s bad shooting (3-16 by then) didn’t help their cause.

4TH QUARTER

The good news was that Dwight opened up the fourth quarter with a dunk after a Chris Duhon miss. And then Kobe snapped out of his slump with two straight baskets, the latter shot being a three-pointer.

 

And then it became a more fun game. Pau Gasol brought the strength with his macho man dunk. LeBron James and Kobe Bryant would trade threes. Then Kobe and Wade would trade buckets. Kobe made his first four shots in the fourth and we were left with a breathless 83-all tie halfway through the fourth.

LeBron hustled for the ball after a Kobe missed shot and passed to Ray Allen for a huge three-pointer. Bron followed that up with a long jumper to put the Heat up five. Then Steve Nash would counter with a three to cut the lead down to two.

Kobe would later tie the game with an incredible three-pointer. Wade would give the lead back to the Heat with a short jumper. Dwight Howard then missed both foul shots (the first one being an airball). Ray Allen’s high-arcing jumper would give the Heat a four-point lead. After the Lakers couldn’t convert because of some suffocating defense, LeBron seemingly put the game away with an elbow drop from the left side.

The Heat defeat the Lakers, 99-90, to snap the Lakers’ two-game win streak.

STAT LEADERS
POINTS: Kobe Bryant, 22.
REBOUNDS: Dwight Howard, 16.
ASSISTS: Steve Nash, 7.
BLOCKS: Dwight Howard, 1.
STEALS: Three players with 1.

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