The Lakers and Heat played one of the most entertaining games of the season last night. There were a season-high 31 lead changes, a few amazing dunks, an overtime, and two of the biggest stars in the game coming up big for their teams. Dwyane Wade and Quentin Richardson both had great nights to lead the Heat over Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in overtime, 114-111.
In the first half the Lakers dominated the paint but their defense was lacking. The Lakers took advantage of their size and outscored the Heat 24-8 in the paint in the half. But aside from Artest, the rest of the team didn't hustle on defense. They were following the ball and were always a pass behind. The only player on the Heat who should be doubled is Wade but for some reason the Lakers were doubling anyone who drove to the lane and that opened up shots on the outside. But the Heat were missing those open looks. They shot 38 percent in the half and the Lakers led 47-44.
It's pretty amazing the Lakers remained in this game. The Heat shot an absurd 68 percent from the field after the first half. Those open jumpers were now falling and the biggest beneficiary was Quentin Richardson. He hit 7 of 11 three-pointers and had 25 points. That's his highest point total in nearly a year.
To minimize the Lakers advantage inside, the Heat went to a zone that really hampered LA. They collapsed on Bynum and Gasol in the post and forced Los Angeles to hit jumpers that weren't falling. The Lakers countered by going to a smaller lineup. Gasol and Bynum were never in at the same time once they made the switch and it really got their offense going. Well, that and Kobe Bryant.
The Lakers trailed 92-84 with under four minutes remaining. The Lakers went on a 9-2 run to cut the lead to a single point. Then Wade hit a shot and Kobe countered. Wade missed a shot and Kobe knocked down a couple free throws. Wade took a couple hard steps in, swung the ball to Richardson who buried a three with Bryant in his face. Heat led 99-97. But they left 11 seconds left on the clock. Bryant drove right on Wade and pulled up and hit a fadeaway jumper to tie it. On the other end Wade tried a similar move to the left side but Lamar Odom was too long and he had to alter his shot which fell short and off-line.
But the Heat didn't cool down in overtime and neither did Bryant. Kobe hit three of five shots and scored the Lakers first six points. The Heat though, they hit all four of their shots and seven of eight free throws to pull out the win. Free throws were a huge story in this contest. The Heat knocked down 21 of their 25 (84%) as opposed to the Lakers who hit 15 of 25 (60%). With a little over two minutes left in regulation Artest missed a pair of free throws that cost them the game.
As a fan of the Lakers this was tough. But as a fan of basketball it
was tremendous. Dwyane Wade struggled a bit with Artest on him. Wade
turned it over six times and at least four of those were when Artest
was on him. But Wade is too quick for Artest and blew by him a number
of times. Wade finished with 27 points and 14 assists.
Bryant had 10 in the first half and 29 in the second and overtime. At one point he scored 12 straight for LA but it just wasn't enough. Last time these two teams played, Bryant hit what might be the shot of the year. You might remember the fading-left-banked-three-pointer to give the Lakers the one point win. This time he only tied the game and they couldn't pull it out in overtime.
The Lakers had won their previous four overtime games this season. They play the Bobcats Friday night.
-It happened again. Put out another A.P.B on Andrew Bynum in the second half. He had 10 points and 9 rebounds in the first half and had 2 points and 1 rebound in the second.Where does he go?? Someone needs to get to the bottom of this. Is it his conditioning?