Coming off two lopsided finishes to start the NBA's Christmas Day buffet, the Los Angeles Lakers jumped out to an early lead and remained competitive against the Miami Heat. But as they often do, the Heat made a stand and won the game. This one came courtesy of Dwyane Wade, who made three consecutive fourth-quarter layups, the last one a gorgeous reverse layup that put Miami up 98-92 with 53 seconds left. The Heat held on to win 101-95 for their sixth straight win.
Forty-six percent of the Lakers' field goal attempts came from beyond the arc, and it served them well. Miami's defense was subpar from the start, and Los Angeles made four triples in the first quarter for a 27-21 lead. But the Heat flipped the switch in the second quarter, going to Chris Bosh for five straight possessions, all easy shots at the rim. The second quarter also featured an amazing off-the-backboard alley-oop Dwyane Wade delivered to LeBron James. The Heat's two superstars paired up for another alley-oop in the first quarter.
In spite of their effort and shooting, the Lakers couldn't cover up for the fact that they have very little interior defense. That's how Bosh went on a scoring binge in the second quarter and finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds. After missing his first six shots, Bosh made nine of his next 12. The Heat even came up with three tip-ins during a minute-and-a-half span during the third quarter.
And although he heated up in the third quarter, Nick "Swaggy P" Young lost Wade multiple times on his patented cuts to the basket. It was also perplexing that the Lakers elected to run their fourth-quarter offense through the mercurial Young instead of a more steady player like Pau Gasol. Gasol is clearly the Lakers' best player, but took as many shots as Jodie Meeks did.
After sitting out the Heat's overtime win against the Hawks, Wade looked spry on his way to 23 points on 11-of-17 shooting from the field, six rebounds, seven assists and three steals. Wade even made a 3 in the second quarter. James scored 12 of his 19 points in the first half, living in the paint for post-ups and alley-oop dunks. But he settled for jumpers in the second half, never asserting himself in the game. James did grab eight boards, though, and James didn't need to take over with Wade delivering in the clutch.
Ray Allen made four 3s off the bench for Miami, which was without Chris Andersen in the second half with back tightness. With Miami continuing on this West Coast road trip, Andersen would surely help in future games. We also may need to start calling Rashard Lewis "The New Mike Bibby." Erik Spoelstra refused to go with Michael Beasley, a far better player than Lewis, even as the 34-year-old went 1-for-5 from the field.
The Heat visit the Sacramento Kings Dec. 27 at 10 p.m.