Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Christmas day game against Miami at STAPLES Center, the team’s second game at home after a 6-1 road trip through the Midwest and East Coast, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Odom and Gasol
Heat: C. Arroyo, D. Wade, L. James, C. Bosh, Z. Ilgauskas
11:50 Well, it didn’t take long for things to get interesting … the Lakers opened the game with a pretty play, with Gasol setting a pick for Odom at the top of the key, Odom streaking to the hoop and Bryant finding L.O. for a two-handed alley-oop. It was a festive, playoff-type crowd at STAPLES, featuring Kanye West, Will.I.Am., Sly Stallone and Larry David courtside.
6:30 The Lakers did a solid job of keeping the Heat on the perimeter in the first six minutes, as Miami managed only 2-of-10 shots from the perimeter, though Bosh finally broke through with a dunk thanks to Wade’s penetration. That made it 8-7 Lakers, with L.A. getting better shots closer to the rim but converting only 3-of-11.
2:49 The shooting didn’t get any better for the Lakers, who saw Matt Barnes (in for Artest after two early fouls) and Derek Fisher miss back-to-back wide-open threes amidst a 13-2 Heat run. Gasol couldn’t get anything to go, literally, missing his first six shots while Bryant was 0-for-4. Despite L.A.’s offensive struggles (6-for-25, 24 percent), it got back well in transition and forced Miami to settle for jumpers, which equaled 8-of-22 Heat field goals and just a six-point lead despite Bryant and Gasol literally going a collective 0-for-11.
10:00 After continuing to struggle to get the good looks they got early, the Lakers finally got a dunk from Kobe, his first field goal, after a seal in the paint. Mario Chalmers, however, capitalized on good Heat ball movement with a three to open Miami’s biggest lead at 28-16, with the tempo favoring Miami.
4:15 After seven misses, Gasol finally got a shot to go, and a possession later found Bryant for his third straight field goal, the Lakers finally getting a bit of traction to force a Heat time out. The deficit was eight at 35-27, L.A. creeping up to 34.3 percent from the field.
0:00 Some sheer energy and strength from Ron Artest helped L.A. cut Miami’s lead to seven points late in the quarter before two more field goals from Bosh (8-for-12) found the Heat with a 47-38 lead at the break. Not a single Laker was in double figures, with Gasol and Bryant finishing a combined 6-for-21.
10:10 Three straight makes to open the half for the Lakers cut Miami’s lead to six, with Bryant hitting two jumpers around Gasol’s baseline J. Miami, however, responded with an open jumper from Arroyo and two Wade free throws to keep the lead in double digits.
2:46 The Heat pushed its lead to as many as 16 points thanks to six consecutive makes on offense, mostly on perimeter jumpers, before a Fisher three, Odom layup and Gasol alley-oop finish from Artest made it 70-59. Last X-Mas, the Lakers trailed from the 7:11 mark of the first quarter all the way through the game to Cleveland before losing 102-87, and their energy level looked pretty similar as the Heat continued to control the flow. For perspective, we should say that Phil Jackson’s team, of course, would go on to win the title.
0:00 L.A.’s bench had offered little, but Shannon Brown started to make some things happen with a perimeter jumper and technical foul shot (defensive three seconds) before Gasol’s layup cut Miami’s lead to 11 at the break.
8:20 Not a great time for back-to-back turnovers for the Lakers, as the Heat quickly produced five points to push their lead back to 15 points. Then came a Brown missed three, and two foul shots for LeBron (who was terrific with 25 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and four steals) as the deficit grew to 86-79.
5:00 Miami’s lead hit 20 for the first time thanks to a James Jones three, though L.A. couldn’t have expected a fourth quarter rally with the way they were collectively playing. Of course, they knew – perhaps too well – that it was just December.
0:00 No need to detail the final few minutes, which played out much like the previous 43 until an eventual 96-80 win for Miami. The Lakers don’t seem to put the most emphasis on the X-Mas day game, losing for the 8th time with only four wins since 1999, and the Heat were more than game to take advantage.