Whenever you’re facing a tough assignment like Dwyane Wade you’ve got to pick your poison. In this case the Lakers made Wade work for all 27 of his points during the 114-111 overtime loss in Miami. However all that did was make it all the more easier for D-Wade to dish out 14 dimes. Most of those pinpoint passes were directed at Quentin Richardson who lit up the Lake Show with a season high 25 points, besting his season average three times over.
That would be the poison that ultimately soured the first leg of a back-to-back for Los Angeles. Shooting 60% from the charity stripe didn’t help any either, especially not in a game decided by just three points.
Q-Rich was open all night long like a 7-Eleven. Just for the sake of symmetry he even went 7 of 11 from downtown.
The Laker D was caught sagging off the ball in hopes of slowing Wade’s roll. They forced him into some tightly contested shots as evidence by Dwyane’s 9 of 21 shooting night. Problem was that Wade read the situation perfectly more often than not and routinely found the open man.
We’ve come to expect the third quarter to be owned by the Purple and Gold. That wasn’t the case in Miami as the Lakers yielded 30 points out of the locker room.
Something else we’ve come to expect is Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom carrying the offensive load. Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum were non-factors as they once again played small against a much shorter frontline. The Laker bigs combined for 22 points and 19 boards while making just 9 of 20 shots between each other. Roughly half of their season averages. For good measure Gasol got posterized on a nasty follow dunk by Michael Beasley.
Odom was an efficient 6 of 8 from the field as he once again doubled his pleasure with 13 and 11. While Derek Fisher scored 14 before fouling out. But this game would have been over before it started were it not for Kobe Bean.
Bryant is the undisputed King of Clutch.
His brilliant 39-point performance came to a crescendo in the closing minutes of regulation. Bryant buried clutch shot after clutch shot culminating with the sinking of the bucket that sent this game into the extra frame.
The Heat threw the kitchen sink at Bryant. They tried everything from constantly rotating fresh defenders on him to even employing the Jim Boeheim - a 2-3 zone. None of it worked as Mamba was in the zone.
Unfortunately that performance came with a hefty price tag. Bryant had to expend a lot of energy in the fourth quarter and overtime as he played a game high 45 minutes. Not the kind of mileage you want to compile when you’re playing the first of three games in four days.
Thankfully Ron Artest is continuing his defensive tour de force. Were it not for Ron Ron being able to defend Wade late, Kobe’s 45 minutes would have felt more like 65. Artest totaled 5 steals on the night brining his theft total to 16 in the last thee contests.
Overall the Lakers were once again lethargic and uninterested until the game was on the line. Now they’ll have to recover quickly after their late night flight and early arrival in Charlotte. To make matters worse the Bobcats have been a tough opponent in recent years.
If there is one ray of hope for the Lakers it could be the audience who’ll be watching the game in Charlotte. KB24 put on quite a show for Albert Puljos who was amongst crowd in Miami. Just think what Kobe might do with the new owner of the Bobcats looking on.