Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Thursday evening road contest at Miami, the Lakers looking to win a season-high ninth straight game out of the All-Star break, 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, Gasol and Bynum
Heat: M. Chalmers, D. Wade, L. James, C. Bosh, E. Dampier
6:55 Both teams opened the game with a series of jumpers, unable to penetrate respective defenses, and Kobe Bryant couldn’t miss on his way to scoring L.A.’s first 10 points, while Miami did almost all of its damage off Lakers turnovers, scoring 10 of their first 13 points off four Lakers mistakes. Gasol added two free throws and a jumper and Artest a fastbreak dunk to make it a 16-13 Lakers lead, thanks to 6-of-7 FG makes and despite the turnovers.
2:59 L.A. opened a five-point lead at 20-15, then 22-17 when Ron Artest outworked several Heat players by collecting a Bynum miss and sticking it back to reach four points, three boards and three assists. However, he had a shot he perhaps shouldn’t have taken blocked on the next trip down, which the Heat used to get a LeBron James and-1 at the other end to tie the score.
0:29 The Heat role players had gotten quite a bit of criticism for lack of contributions of late, but it was just the opposite in the first quarter, Mike Miller checking in and nailing a three to piggy back the three triples hit by Mario Chalmers, accounting for 12 of Miami’s 29 points in a 29-26 Heat lead. Phil Jackson had mentioned before the game that he wanted the Lakers to just stay close on the scoreboard early against what was to be a desperate/furious Heat effort (five straight losses, heaps of criticism), so LAL accomplished at least that much while playing reasonably well.
8:08 Bryant returned alongside Dwyane Wade, and promptly nailed his second three-pointer to tie the game at 36, getting him up to 15 points on 5-of-6 field goals. Wade had managed just 2-of-7 field goals for five points, getting outplayed by his fellow Finals MVP in the early goings. Bryant, clearly amped up, even picked Wade up full court on the subsequent possession, forcing him to give up the ball.
5:46 Miller was at it again, grabbing his own miss and putting it back to reach 11 points, more than Miami had scored in each of its previous two games off the bench. Meanwhile, the Heat continued to control the glass at 17-9 and had 20 points in the paint to L.A.’s 10, but the Lakers were still trailing by only a point at 43-42.
1:02 A poor stretch near the end of the quarter for L.A. ended as Bynum and Gasol scored at the rim on consecutive low post moves, the Spaniard’s dunk getting him to 14 points and tying the game at 51. That the game was tied was a testament to L.A.’s execution and experience, as the Heat were so continually energetic that they out-rebounded L.A. 23-14. Miami added a bucket before half to take a 55-53 lead, led by 16 points from Chris Bosh and the combined 20 from Chalmers and Miller, needed as Wade and James combined to hit only 6-of-18 shots. Bryant’s 17 led L.A., while Artest chipped in across the box score with six points, five boards, four assists and two steals.
7:25 The two teams combined for exactly two points in the first four minutes of the third quarter, L.A. getting a Fisher jumper, before Wade and Artest exchanged three-point shots to keep the score tied at 60. Interesting stat comparison had Artest equaling James. Ron Ron had 9 P, 5 R, 4 A, 2 S; LeBron: 8 P, 5 R, 6 A, 1 S.
4:30 It was a much better Bynum in the third quarter than what L.A. got in the first half, the seven-footer grabbing six boards and scoring four points in seven minutes, helping L.A. take a 63-62 lead in what had been a close game throughout, neither team leading by more than five points.
3:00 Derek Fisher’s first triple of the game gave the Lakers their biggest lead at 68-62 moments later, the Heat falling to just 3-for-13 from the field in the quarter, turning the ball over seven times as whatever adjustments Phil Jackson and his staff made at halftime were working quite well (as had been the case since the All-Star break in particular). L.A. would then squander several good chances to push their lead to at least eight, missing layups and turning the ball over in the paint by making unnecessary extra passes, as the Heat went on a 6-0 run to come within two (70-68) at quarter’s end.
8:17 With Gasol and Bryant resting, Odom countered a Heat run by scoring four straight points for L.A., getting to 11 with five boards in his 18 minutes. L.A. had gotten burned on the perimeter, however, with Steve Blake failing to get through a Zydrunas Ilgauskas screen that resulted in a Mike Bibby three, his second of the fourth, to put the Heat up three. Bibby, Chalmers and Miller had combined for seven of Miami’s eight threes to that point, with LeBron going 0-for-3 and Wade 1-for-3.
5:31 Bryant made the Heat pay for aggressively doubling him, creating an open jumper for Gasol, who hit it to match Bryant’s 18 points to tie the game at 80. Bryant and Wade were both working extremely hard on one another defensively, Bryant missing all five of his shots in the third and Wade going 2-for-5 to reach 5-for-18 on the game. Each would have five minutes to help their team decide the winner.
4:00 A run of seven straight misses for Bryant going back to the second quarter ended with his corner three in a big spot, answering back-to-back hoops from Wade at the rim to put the Lakers up one. In a terrific stretch to watch, Bosh and Wade then scored two more hoops at the rim before Bryant pulled up for a super, super deep three that tied the game at 88.
1:27 Gasol had an angle to the hoop, and took some contact while missing a shot from the paint. L.A. managed to secure the rebound, but Wade stripped Bryant and was able to find a streaking James for a dunk to put the Heat up 90-88. L.A. had a chance to tie on the next possession, but Artest missed an open layup after securing Bryant’s missed jumper that may or may not have been a goal tend on Big Z, depending on which side you ask. In fact, the Lakers wouldn’t score in the final 2:25 of the game, missing their chance to steal the game.
Miami desperation did them well to snap their own five-game losing streak and stop L.A.’s at eight. Your numbers:
25 L.A.’s shooting percentage in the fourth quarter, when just a shot or two more made may have won them the game.
16 More points in the paint for the Heat than the Lakers.
13 Third quarter points scored by the Heat after a solid defensive quarter from the Lakers produced seven Heat turnovers. The Lakers weren’t much better, however, managing just 17 while Kobe Bryant missed all five of his attempts in the period.
9 Miami’s advantage on the glass, showcasing a Game-7 type effort from a team desperate for a win, and an answer to a major build up of criticism that resulted from their five-game losing streak.
8 Points for Dwyane Wade down the stretch, the Heat running things through No. 3, who got to the rim three times for layups through traffic.