With the NBA season still on hiatus, Hot Hot Hoops will provide you, dear reader, with a look back at some exciting games in Miami Heat history. And we won’t just do the usual suspects — Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals or Game 6 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals. We’ll also cover hidden gems and forgotten classics in the Heat archive.
And first up is a game from Dec. 19, 2008 — a 12-12 Heat team facing off against the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers.
After a Finals loss to the Boston Celtics, the Lakers had raced to a 20-4 record heading into their visit in Miami. The Heat, meanwhile, had come off an atrocious 15-67 season but had a revitalized Dwyane Wade. Rookie Mario Chalmers, who was a second-round pick, was the starting point guard, but No. 2 pick Michael Beasley came off the bench.
The battle between prime Wade and prime Bryant didn’t disappoint. Wade finished with 35 points on 13-of-25 shooting from the field, while Bryant scored 28 points on 12-of-24 shooting. Both of them made multiple tough shots and proved why they were both headed to All-NBA First Team selections. The game, meanwhile, was tight until a late Miami flurry in the third quarter — one that Wade capitalized with a buzzer-beating 3. The Heat went into the fourth up 12.
Bryant led a Lakers charge back into the game, and he had the ball with 20 seconds left. The Heat were nursing an 88-86 lead. After driving into the lane, Bryant passed the ball to Lamar Odom. Joel Anthony blocked his shot. Odom grabbed the ball and put up another shot. Wade blocked it this time. Pau Gasol grabbed the loose ball, but Wade stripped it out of bounds.
After Gasol and Wade each split a pair at the foul line, the Heat were up 89-87 with 6.8 seconds left. The Lakers called a timeout to advance the ball. Shawn Marion played good defense on Bryant, who rifled off a midrange jumper. The ball went in-and-out at the buzzer. The Heat survived.
Just about a year later, the Heat and Lakers played again. Bryant banked in a 3 at the buzzer over Wade’s outstretched arm to win the game, getting his revenge. And in February 2019, Wade credited that Bryant shot moments after banking in a 3 at the buzzer to win against the Golden State Warriors.