The Los Angeles Lakers made their lone visit to South Beach to take on the Miami Heat, and as everyone expected, it was an exciting game. Kobe Bryant went head-to-head against LeBron James, and with Dwyane Wade out with an injury, James had to face Kobe all by himself.
The Lakers have gotten off to a fast start this season and they needed a win against a team like the Heat to prove their dominance over the NBA.
Both teams began the game slow and missed on their first two shots, but Lakers’ Andrew Bynum tacked on the two points with a littler over two minutes into the game.
Kobe Bryant had another slow start to the game as he missed on his first three shots. Kobe was being forced to take perimeter jumpers, but luckily the Lakers’ big men took over the scoring load early on. Pau Gasol and Bynum scored the team’s first eight points, and the Heat’s front-court had trouble going up against two seven footers. With 7:56 left in the opening period, the Lakers had an 8-5 lead.
However, the Lakers’ coaching staff was forced to take Bynum out of the game with two fouls mid-way in the quarter. Bynum and Gasol were the only players who had hot hands for the Lakers, and with them facing a 10-12 deficit, the Lakers needed Kobe to get is going on offense.
Unfortunately, Kobe could not find his shot and the Heat took advantage by going on a run to open its lead to eight after a hard foul by Josh McRoberts.
Although the Lakers were horrendous from the three-point line and Kobe Bryant started the game 0-5, they were only facing a 20-25 hole to end the first. Los Angeles shot a pathetic 6-22, and even though the offense looked lethargic, it was still in striking position.
Kobe finished the opening period with four points, whereas Gasol racked up 11, including a three-point make.
As for the Heat, James, Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers each scored six points, and unlike the Lakers, it made more than half of its threes.
The Lakers did not improve much on the offensive end to begin the second quarter and the offense was still stagnant and ball movement was lacking. Rookie guard Darius Morris was having trouble against the Heat’s athleticism and was making unforced turnovers.
The Heat continued on its onslaught and its three-point shooting was far superior than that of the Lakers. Miami’s bench players were spacing the floor well and got much easier looks than the Lakers’ players. After a Mike Miller three, Miami found itself leading the Lakers 33-22 with 7:53 left in the first half.
The Lakers could not find any offensive rhythm and the only reason why Miami hadn’t opened up a 15-point lead was because of the Lakers’ solid defense. Although Los Angeles was having some success stopping the Heat from scoring, it were committing bad mistakes and could not knock down a shot on the other end of the court. At the 5:44 mark of the second quarter, the Lakers found themselves down 29-40.
The Heat ended the first half on a high note as James and Battier hit threes to expand the lead. After 24 minutes the Lakers were trailing 53-37 and needed a spark to get back into the game.
Kobe Bryant had just six points on 1-8 shooting and as a team, the Lakers were at a horrible 13-42.
The Lakers opened up the third better with a little more success on the offensive end, but they could not prevent the Heat from getting shots in the paint. Although Gasol and Kobe were connecting on their attempts, the Lakers could not stop the Heat in order to spark a run. With 6:00 in the third, the Lakers faced a 63-49 deficit.
The offense was once again stalling and it was clear that the Lakers were in desperate need for an explosive offensive player. When Kobe Bryant cannot find his shot, the Lakers are a very weak team that will have trouble scoring the ball. The Heat were doing a great job limiting the Lakers, but Los Angeles also played a role in its horrific shooting.
The Lakers insisted on shooting the long-ball despite the fact that they were the worst three-point shooting team in the NBA. Even though the Lakers were 2-11 from the arc, the players still jacked up shots. To make matters worse, the Lakers could not stop the penetration of the Heat guards and were once again committing turnovers. Los Angeles had five turnovers in the opening period, and they added four more in just the third quarter.
The Heat won the third quarter 25-19 and were leading 77-56 heading into the final period. At that point, eight Lakers players had a plus/minus below one and their 38% shooting just added to the humility. Kobe Bryant had just 10 points and made only three shots in 12 attempts.
The Lakers began the final period hitting their shots and fans had a smile on their face when Kobe was nailing his jumpers. On top of that, Troy Murphy was connecting on his attempts and was the Lakers’ second best option. Murphy made his first two shots in the fourth, to put himself at 4-4, but the Lakers were still down big. Despite the small sign of optimism, the Heat held a 87-69 lead with 8:14 left in the game.
Even though the Heat had the game essentially wrapped up, LeBron James stayed on the floor and was working hard to expand the lead. James was thwarting the Lakers on one end of the floor and was either finding shots near the hoop or at the free-throw line when the ball was in his hands.
The Lakers made a strong push late in the game, but it was too little too late. The game was essentially over before the fourth quarter even began, but Mike Brown kept the starters in the game despite having another contest tomorrow night. Even with all the minutes players like Kobe and Gasol played, Brown kept them on the floor for the majority of the period.
As the final buzzer rang, the Lakers walked off with their chins down as the Heat won the game, 98-87.
Pau Gasol led the way for the Lakers with 26 points, followed by Kobe Bryant with 24. Overall, Los Angeles shot 34-81 from the field, 42%. As for their weak spot, the three-point shot, the Lakers were at a miserable 6-20 and they made matters worse with 14 turnovers.
As for the Miami Heat, it made 45% of its shots and half of its three point tries (nine). LeBron James led the Heat in tonight’s game with 31 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
The Lakers will stay in Florida for their next game as they will travel north to play the Orlando Magic tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. EST on ESPN.