Heat pull away in final quarter to sink the Lakers 107-97

Mike Ehrmann

LeBron James hits yet another Heat franchise milestone by scoring over 30 points in the last five games to overpower the visiting Los Angeles Lakers.

The Los Angeles Lakers hung in there as long as they could but eventually the firepower coupled with some timely steals and forced turnovers were enough for the Miami Heat to pull away from the visiting team and finish them off 107-97.

Meanwhile, LeBron James became the third player in NBA history to score 30+ points and shoot at least 60% from the field over the course of five games. For today's game, the MVP poured in 32 points on 12-18 shooting from the field, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists. In addition to his hot shooting, LeBron also chipped in 7-8 from the free throw line.

The Heat sweep both the Clippers and the Lakers in their weekend Los Angeles series at the AmericanAirlines Arena. Though the Heat weren't dominant like they were on Friday night, the Heat still strung together some great basketball on both ends of the floor for the win on Sunday but not after the two sides were jawing at each other in the second half in the midst of hard fouls and aggressive play.

"We just focused on the things we could control and that's playing better and doing our job," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra observed after the Heat's 22nd home victory in 25 games at the AA Arena. "The activity level all the way up until that point was very good but then it spiked to another level (after those) two or three skirmishes in the third quarter. But we did it with a better discipline, focus and commitment in the fourth quarter. So we'll take it and it was good that we had to fight for that."

Kobe Bryant did his best for the Lakers in their quest to notch an important win on the road against one of the league's elite teams. Despite scoring 28 points with 11-19 shooting along with an impressive 9 assists and 6 rebounds. Earl Clark had a strong game as well with 18 points and 9 rebounds. But too little ball movement and not enough of Dwight Howard inside the paint, one of the few advantages the Lakers had over the Heat, in the second half doomed the hugely-disappointing Lakers. Only three players came off the Lakers bench and combined for just 12 points, 2 steals, 3rebounds, and 2 assists.

Even though the game had plenty of playoff-atmosphere moments, the difference between the defending champs and the retooled Lakers was a bit more evident than the final ten-point winning margin. The Heat's defense, always in motion and constantly shutting down passing lanes in order to cause turnovers.

Dwyane Wade continued his strong game of late, with a monster dunk around the rim right by Howard to energize the arena midway through the third quarter. LeBron may be grabbing the headlines as of late with his ridiculously efficient game but Wade also has been displaying some of his best basketball so far this season.

"Both ends, I mean he was tireless tonight," said Spoelstra. "I planned on getting him out for a couple of minutes in the fourth quarter but he was playing with so much energy on both ends of the court and in the last five minutes he had to take the challenge against Bryant. So he was doing it on both ends and that's what makes him special, LeBron special and Chris special. That's why we wanted all three of those guys to set the tone for our franchise because they are true two-way players. To be a franchise player you have to be a two-way player and you have to be committed to both ends of the court.

"And offensively, he made all the right decisions. He was aggressive but he also got off the ball when he needed to. He set up his teammates for open looks, there were two or three great trust plays down the stretch. Shane (Battier) had two wide-open threes from that and Rio had an open look that he was able to knock down. So it was good execution offensively going down the stretch and a better focus defensively in the fourth quarter."

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