Lakers-Heat was Hollywood at its finest. The Heat’s 99-90 win had leading men, a duel as its storyline and a big budget (the Lakers’ payroll). Generally in a big game like Miami-Lakers the question after the game becomes was Team X that impressive or Team Y that bad? Miami’s first four field goals — all huge dunks off sloppy Laker turnovers from Miami’s wing pressure — left no doubt that Miami was just that spectacular at the start — and the finish, too. It looked like a video game set on “JV” difficulty with Easy Play on. The Lakers kept on throwing the ball away at an alarming rate — 16 in the first half for 19 Miami points — and yet led by one at the half, even after Dwyane Wade‘s (27 points) brilliant play to end the first half. He Euro-stepped to the heart of the paint, went up with three Lakers around him and spun around in the air to hand the ball off to LeBron James (39 strong points, seven boards, eight assists, two turnovers), who found zero opposition for a two-handed slam. The catalyst for L.A. keeping it close was Dwight Howard, who beasted for 10 points and eight boards (finishing with 13 and 16) and looked on every one he’d taken Robert Horry‘s criticism to heart. Also, Miami was pitiful outside of the key, shooting 2-for-19 at one point while Wade and LeBron had 50 of Miami’s 73 points. … It was interesting to see LeBron, typically stoic on the court, get absolutely infuriated by Joel Anthony with three minutes left in the third quarter. It feels like LeBron gives you less emotion than more but don’t tell that to his teammate. He was late getting a screen and then got called for a moving screen. James lost it. He slammed the ball to the floor and ripped into his teammate. And you know what? We’re totally fine with it. Only reason why we bring it up is after the harrowing road trip (5-6 entering the game) the Heat have endured, this team needed a kick in the ass from someone other than Erik Spoelstra. … They eventually got it once because Kobe woke up, forcing the Heat to answer. LeBron hit Miami’s first three of the night halfway through the fourth quarter, but if that was reason for the Heat to breathe a sight of relief, Kobe Bryant (22 points, 13 in the fourth, although he shot just as many attempts as LeBron overall) was putting Miami in a chokehold at the other end. All he needed was one to get in rhythm, and he got a quick runner. All of a sudden Kobe was turning into the hyperbolic figure his new Nike commercial portrays him to be, hitting two successive threes and a jumper. Just like that, LeBron was sicced on Kobe and vice versa and Twitter was about to melt. Bryant’s three to tie it at 90 with 2:23 left only intensified how this game turned into “The Game” we’d all hoped it would be. LeBron’s jumper to turn it into a six-point lead a couple minutes later capped how a pretty good game that was close for three quarters had become one that lived up to the billing. We give it four stars. … Hit the jump to read about the most important performance of the NBA’s London game. …
Smack / Jan 18, 2013 / 1:26 am
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