Just a week ago, Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant had a rendezvous in Orlando in the 2012 NBA All-Star Game as Wade delivered a hard (for the All-Star Game) foul on a driving Bryant. The blow caused Kobe's nose to bleed; we'd find out later that Bryant suffered a nasal fracture and concussion symptoms. Wade apologized, but ominous clouds descended upon STAPLES Center, the site of Sunday's match between Wade's Miami Heat and Bryant's L.A. Lakers.
Well, that's not precisely true. There are never any ominous clouds in L.A., especially not in March. And really, this isn't a big deal. Kobe and Wade are big boys and understand that the Heat guard wasn't trying to injure anyone. And if he was? Hell, he's Dwyane Wade. He can do whatever he wants.
The Heat have played twice since the All-Star Game, beating up on the Portland Trail Blazers Thursday night before losing to the Utah Jazz in a heartbreaker on Friday. The visit to L.A. ends Miami's road trip; the Heat will return home for three this upcoming week. This is Miami's final game on the West Coast this season, barring a Finals matchup with the Lakers, L.A. Clippers, Sacramento Kings or Vancouver Grizzlies. (The last two options are equally likely.)
The Lakers have a pair of wins since All-Star, home victories against the crackling Minnesota Timberwolves (who missed Kevin Love dearly) and the Kings, who nearly came back for a deep deficit late on Friday. At 22-14, the Lakers sit in the No. 4 spot in the West, a half-game ahead of Memphis, one game ahead of Dallas, and a game and a half ahead of Houston. (It's a tight race.)
Miami is tied with Chicago in the loss column (eight), but the Bulls have two extra wins. Indiana, No. 3 out East, is not very close.
These two teams have already met in Miami this season. The Heat won that one easily, by the score 98-87. LeBron James had 31 points, eight rebounds, eight rebounds, four steals and three blocks. He's on a little bit of a tear right now, too: he's exceeded 35 points, 10 rebounds and six assist in both games this week.