The Lakers were in Miami tonight to take on the Heat in the most anticipated game since last Sunday. The teams entered the game on opposite ends of the spectrum, as the Lakers had won eight consecutive games while the Heat were losers of five straight. However, a win against the back to back champions might quiet many of the Miami critics that have surfaced lately.
As many people expected both teams hit the court with plenty of energy. It seemed that the Heat were a bit too emotional at the beginning of the game, and it resulted in two quick fouls on Chris Bosh. Kobe Bryant carried the Lakers out of the gates, scoring the first 10 points of the game for Los Angeles. The Heat were able to answer in large part due to the hot shooting of Mario Chalmers, who hit two three-point shots in the early minutes of the game.
As the first quarter progressed both teams stayed neck and neck. The Lakers defense was soft and the Heat were hot from outside. Another three point bucket from Chalmers plus the first points of the night from Mike Miller put the Heat on top. As time expired in the first quarter LeBron James connected on a buzzer beating floater to put Miami up 29-26.
One of the big advantages for the Lakers going into the game was their size. With this size many believed that they would be able to control the glass and the paint. However, Miami did a good job of neutralizing that advantage in the second quarter. By the time the half ended the Heat were leading the Lakers 23-15 on the glass, and had 12 offensive rebounds compared to five for Los Angeles.
The players that gave the Lakers trouble in the first half weren’t the household names. In fact, other than Chris Bosh, the Miami ‘Big 3’ had a relatively quiet half. It was the three-point shooting from Mike Miller and Mario Chalmers that allowed the Heat to maintain a lead heading into the half. The Lakers stayed close but failed to take advantage of Miami’s soft front line, and headed into the half trailing the Heat 55-53.
The third quarter was very sloppy at the outset. The Lakers were able to score first to tie the game at 55, but after that all scoring seemed to disappear. In fact, it took nearly five minutes for the Heat to finally get on the board in the second half. The reason for their success in the third was the continued hot hand of Chris Bosh, who led the team in scoring in the first half.
After a quiet first half Lakers’ center Andrew Bynum woke up in the third quarter. After pulling down several rebounds, Bynum gave the Lakers the lead back after connecting on two free throws. The Lakers held onto the lead for the rest of the quarter, and entered the final 12 minutes of play leading the Heat in Miami, 70-68.
After winning the third quarter the Lakers only needed to tie the fourth to take home the victory. Miami’s recent struggles in close games also appeared to favor the Lakers heading into the quarter. Miami started the quarter hot, and managed to re-take the lead after recently acquired Mike Bibby hit two three point shots. The Lakers did their best to keep the game close while Bryant got his usual rest at the start of the fourth. They managed to do that thanks in large part to Lamar Odom, who had several nice offensive sets for Los Angeles.
After Bryant and Derek Fisher checked back in for the Lakers it was evident this was going to be an exciting finish. The teams traded baskets for awhile with neither team able to get a sizable advantage. Chris Bosh was the factor for Miami down the stretch, and to nobody’s surprise it was Kobe Bryant for the Lakers. Bryant hit several three-point shots, including one from way outside. However, a key steal from Dwyane Wade led to a LeBron James fastbreak dunk that put Miami on top with just over a minute left in the fourth.
After the Heat took the lead late the Lakers struggled to get any offensive rhythm. Too many outside jump shots from Bryant ended up hurting the Lakers down the stretch and the Heat were able to pull off the victory. After the game two streaks had ended, as the Lakers finally lost a game and Miami finally won. It was a tough loss for the Lakers, as they fell to the Heat 94-88.