Kobe Bryant started hot and finished fast, giving him a game-high 33 points while Dwyane Wade fouled out with four fourth-quarter fouls, as Kobe got revenge for his infamously broken nose and the Los Angeles Lakers got the 93-83 win over the Miami Heat on Sunday afternoon.
Sporting a protective mask for his broken nose courtesy of Wade at All-Star Weekend, Bryant started the Lakers off well by establishing his shooting rhythm early and scoring on eight of his first 10 shots. His 18 first-quarter points nearly outpaced the Heat's 20. With Chris Bosh out for the Heat LeBron James was Miami's only productive big man for the game: In addition to guarding one of the Lakers 7-footers, Pau Gasol, he was tasked with trying to keep the team afloat on the glass. James led Miami with 13 boards, seven coming on the offensive glass.
Even with James' effort, which included 25 points and seven assists, Miami struggled to get clean rebounds on the defensive glass, severing the stellar transition game. Miami, which usually sees transition account for 15.5 percent of its offensive plays, according to mySynergySports.com, could muster only five percent against the Lakers. The lack of easy points came through on their overall offensive effectiveness as well, as the team that usually scores more than a point per possession, came up with 0.84 points per possession in Los Angeles.
Underscoring the issues with the Miami frontcourt was 2-for-16 shooting effort from Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony and Juwan Howard. The Heat big men struggled mightily to replace the All-Star Bosh and could only combine for 10 points, 10 rebounds and a blocked shot in a combined 62 minutes.
Meanwhile the Lakers were taking advantage inside, as Andrew Bynum scored 16 points on 11 shots and grabbed 13 rebounds. Bynum also blocked four shots, leading a Laker team that swatted 10 shots overall. Los Angeles got an inspired effort from Metta World Peace, who was very active, scoring 17 points while contributing seven rebounds and four steals.
Despite the floor seemingly being tilted to the Lakers side and Los Angeles building as large as a 16-point lead in the first half, the Heat kept battling, whittling the lead down to two points on a couple of occasions late in the first half. But after a Mario Chalmers basket brought the Laker lead to a bucket, Kobe knocked down an answer score, Steve Blake drilled a three and World Peace scored again to stretch the lead out again and Miami would never get as close.
In the fourth quarter, the Lakers answered any attempt of the Heat to tie the game while Miami tried to take an odd path to the comeback. James and Wade combined for only seven of the team's 23 shots, making only three of those seven. Despite coming into the quarter with only two fouls, Wade quickly tallied four, the last coming on an ill-advised over-the-back on Bynum, fouling Wade out for the first time in 259 regular season games.
The Lakers closed the game out by shooting near 50 percent for the quarter, while Miami shot its worst in the fourth quarter (35 percent) on a day where it shot 38 percent for the game.
At Silver Screen and Roll, C.A. Clark sings the praises of World Peace:
--- To say that today was MWP's best game since changing his name from Ron Artest would be a significant understatement. Metta hit a bevy of important shots in going for 17 points on 6-10 shooting, including fade aways, three pointers, and the most awkward up and under finger roll you will ever see. His energy on defense was also spectacular, holding LeBron James to a rather Kobe-ian 25 points on 26 shots. Peace picked up 4 steals and a block on top of his already stellar numbers.
For Miami perspective on the loss, check out Peninsula is Mightier.