Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Sunday afternoon contest against Miami, the Lakers looking for an eighth consecutive home win, 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, World Peace, Gasol and Bynum
Heat: M. Chalmers, D. Wade, L. James, U. Haslem*, J. Anthony
*Chris Bosh was missing his third straight game due to the death of his grandmother.
7:02 OK, folks: this game without question felt like a playoff contest. Perhaps the first home game of the year with such a vibe, L.A. came out swinging, led by a 4-for-4 Kobe Bryant to produce a 14-9 lead. This was to be a game about style, L.A. trying to slow it down and use its bigs and Kobe on the post, and the Heat trying to run and use the elite athleticism of LeBron and Wade.
2:58 While Kobe continued to score (14 points), Bynum controlled the paint, blocking three Heat shots to help L.A. push to a 22-14 lead. Gasol pitched in with three of the team’s nine boards, plus two assists, matching World Peace (who offered a breakaway hammer dunk earlier in the period).
0:00 Despite a pull-up from LeBron with three seconds left, L.A. carried a 28-20 lead out of the period. Kobe was fantastic with 18 points on 8-of-10 FG’s with Shane Battier guarding him (he never bought into the theme that Battier could defend him 1-on-1), while L.A. as a team shot 60 percent and held the Heat below 40.
9:00 There’s a reason second round pick Andrew Goudelock has earned himself some legit playing time this season: he’s not afraid of anything, trusts himself and knocks down shots. He showed it on the biggest stage thus far this season by nailing back-to-back threes to put the Lakers up 36-25.
5:43 L.A.’s bench did well to maintain its lead, giving up only a point as LeBron and Wade alternatively led Miami’s second unit, and Kobe got some extra rest. It was 39-29 when Bryant returned, along with Fisher (replacing Steve Blake and his three assists).
1:55 A personal 5-0 scoring run from World Peace, capped by an open corner three off Blake’s four assist, gave L.A. its biggest lead at 50-34. Miami would manage the final four points of the half, but Brown could remain pretty satisfied with a strong 24 minutes. L.A. held the Heat to only 37.5 percent from the field, while hitting 51.4 themselves, trying to build on what is now the league’s 7th best FG% offense (Lakers have been shooting up the ranks). The Heat, by the way, rank first in both points and field goal percentage.
7:42 The halftime adjustment from Miami was to go small, putting LeBron at power forward and Haslem on the bench, keeping Battier in to defend Bryant. A quick 7-0 run with that small group cut L.A.’s 14-point lead in half, and Gasol was growing frustrated as LeBron aggressively fronted him, feeling like he was being fouled. He did grab an offensive board over James and stuff it back, then drew a foul in transition from Battier to hit two free throws and make it a 58-49 lead.
3:38 The lead fell to as few as two on a put-back layup from James (outstanding with 23 points, six boards and five assists), though World Peace’s three stopped the run and got him to 12 points. The small ball had definitely affected L.A., struggling to figure out the matchups with Miami flying around defensively, but World Peace (13 points, three boards, three assists and three steals) was very effective.
0:00 With Miami back in a more traditional line up with Haslem on the floor, the Lakers closed the quarter with an aggressive effort on D, paying off at the other end with a 7-0 run. Bryant dropped a long J, Blake hit a corner three from Gasol’s nice pass, and Blake then found World Peace (15 points) in transition for an alley-oop layup that made it 71-62. We even had some fireworks after a final defensive stop from L.A., protecting the rim fiercely, and a frustrated LeBron (lightly) pushed Troy Murphy. This prompted Gasol to come over and push LeBron (which really fired up the crowd and L.A.’s bench), but aside from matching technicals for Pau and James, it was much ado about nothing.
10:23 After a great defensive play by World Peace (his season-high fourth steal) got Bynum an alley-oop dunk from Blake at the other end, pushing L.A.’s lead back to 11, the Heat got a four-point play as rookie Norris Cole hit a triple, and Barnes was called for an off-ball foul, giving Juwan Howard an extra free throw.
6:00 Crunch time having arrived, L.A. had worked its tail off to build a 11-point lead, and though four straight from the Heat cut it to 79-72, Wade (suddenly) fouled out by committing his fourth foul in the quarter, two coming on offense, the sixth trying to stop a Gasol alley-oop to Bynum. L.A.’s center had buried 24-of-27 free throws in the previous six games, but he somehow didn’t get FT’s here. No matter as Kobe buried a long jumper to reach 26 points, putting L.A. up nine.
2:28 Bryant picked a great time to heat back up for the Lakers, nailing three consecutive shots, capped by a 20-foot jumper from the wing, to reach 30 points (his third straight 30-plus-point effort since sporting the mask) to put the Lakers up 85-75. The crowd was loving it, in a terrific playoff-style atmosphere.
1:10 The Heat tried to make it interesting, getting a three from Chalmers to cut the lead to six, as L.A. essentially needed one more hoop to seal it. They’d get it from Kobe, who pulled up to make his fourth shot in five crunch time attempts (this one after James nearly got a key steal), and then an extra dagger from Fisher on a floater. A few free throws produced a 93-83 victory, L.A.’s eighth straight at home, pushing them to 23-14 on the season and pushing them past the Clippers (21-13) in the Pacific (3rd in the West). Up next is a Tuesday tilt in Detroit. We’ll see you there.