The Los Angeles Lakers came into Thursday night’s game against the Miami Heat with renewed confidence and high hopes of beginning to resemble the championship contending team that everybody expected to see at the beginning of the year. The Lakers had just wont 2 in a row, got Pau Gasol back for this game and finally had the big four intact for one of the few times this season.
Conversely, the Miami Heat came in struggling having just lost 3 of their last 5 games on their current road trip and were just 5-6 overall in their last 11 games. The Miami were also playing on the 2nd night of back to back having just beat the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, 92-75, the night before.
It seemed like the NBA defending champions and Eastern Conference leaders were ripe for the picking. The Lakers were even competitive throughout the 1st half and through most of the 4th quarter. The Lakers had a lead of 83-81 with around 6 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter. Then Lebron James and the Miami Heat suffocating defense happened. The Miami Heat swarmed Kobe Bryant, who started getting going early on in the 4th quarter after having a horrid shooting night from the field for the first 3 quarters, and he was ineffective to close out the games. Kobe Bryant hit a 3 to tie the game at 90 with 2 minutes remaining. The Lakers would never score again and it was all Miami from that point on.
It was the exact opposite for Lebron James, who was dominating throughout the game and more importantly, to close. Lebron ended the game with a season high 39 points and added 8 assist and 7 rebounds. Dwayne Wade, who was celebrating his 31st birthday, scored 27 points on an efficient 11 for 20 from the field.
Kobe Bryant led the Lakers in scoring again but struggled from the field; he scored 22 points on 8 for 25 from the field.
The Lakers main problems in last night’s game were turnovers and executing offensively down the stretch. The Lakers committed 16 turnovers in the first half and 20 overall, which led to Miami’s 21 fast break points and contributing to an astounding 68 to 28 point edge in points in the paint. With the score tied 90 with 2:32 left in the game, the Lakers were outscored by the Miami Heat 9-0. The Lakers turnovers and poor offensive execution in the end had everything to do with the Miami Heat’s stifling defense.
The Lakers are back on the road, starting with a trip to Toronto on Sunday, then Chicago to play the Bulls the following night. The Lakers end their 3 game road trip in Memphis to play the Grizzlies.
– Fern Rea “@fullcourtfern”