Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni let it be known prior to his teams’ contest with the Miami Heat that he wanted them shooting at least 30 three-pointers.
He got his wish with the Lakers attempting 36 threes, and even got fortunate with the team converting on 39 percent of them, but it still wasn’t enough against a Miami Heat team that is constantly fighting opponents that suddenly get hot from the perimeter.
While the Lakers reigned supreme from outside, the Heat’s staggering 58-26 edge on points in the paint was what propelled Miami to a 101-95 victory to start off their four-game, West coast road trip.
The Heat were led by Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh each scoring 23 points, with Bosh also grabbing 11 rebounds in only 31 minutes, while LeBron James struggled with his outside shot, scoring only 19 points but also grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out four assists.
LeBron made all seven of his attempts from inside, but missed all seven of his attempts taken outside of the paint, including all four of his three-pointers. He was later heard afterward complaining about the sleeved jerseys his team was forced to wear, which may have very well played a factor in the Heat shooting 58 percent and the Lakers shooting 57 percent on free throws.
While LeBron may not have had it going with his outside shot, he did throw down a pair of the best alley-oop slams you’ve seen in the past decade, starting off with this reach-back, one-handed slam:
But, of course, this wasn’t enough to please the fans that took time out of their Christmas to watch this lopsided affair, at least talent-speaking, and the two other contests that preceded it.
As a reward for their viewing, Wade and James combined to make this happen in a regulation professional basketball game:
Oh, just any other left-handed, off-the-glass, no-look dunk for LeBron. No big deal.
Miami was a juggernaut on the offensive end throughout, even with LeBron only shooting 7-for-14 and the team as a whole shooting 33 percent on 27 three-pointers. They still managed to have an extremely efficient 29 of their 41 made field-goals come off assists, leading to 51 percent shooting overall.
Ray Allen made four of his team’s nine makes on the night, but the rest of the squad combined to shoot a paltry 5-of-22.
There was also enough offense to offset the absurdity that was the Lakers offense, one that featured a combined 12 three-pointers come from Nick Young, Wesley Johnson and Jodie Meeks.
Young, especially, was a nuisance to the Heat as he shot 7-of-18 and made a number of wild three-pointers in a third quarter where an eight-point lead was cut to two heading into the final frame.
The Lakers actually took an 81-79 lead with 10:30 left in the fourth, but were met by a 13-2 Heat run, facilitated by seven points from Norris Cole, over the next six minutes to give Miami a commanding nine-point lead with 4:03 left.
Since games featuring the Heat are never over until the clock reads all zeroes, and even then it still may be in doubt, the Lakers had a chance to cut Miami’s lead to three with 1:25 remaining following Young’s latest ‘Hand of God’ shot and a pair of Jodie Meeks free throws upcoming.
Meeks would only make one of the free throws, though, and the Heat responded with a LeBron drive-and-pass leading to a Wade reverse layup. Meeks and Xavier Henry would each miss a three-pointer on the other end and the game was put on ice following LeBron making three of his last four free throws.
It was about everything you were expecting from a Heat-Lakers game. Although many fans of the NBA thought it would have similar execution and results to the Nets-Bulls and Thunder-Knicks games that had been played earlier, Heat fans knew the Lakers had the right players to keep it interesting.
As expected, we were correct. Jodie Meeks made a pair of three-pointers in the opening three minutes in a first quarter the Lakers scored 27 in, while Young dropped a pair of threes and two other makes in the third to keep the Heat from pulling away.
The Lakers are a team of gunners and shot-chuckers, and that’s the only reason this game was any close. Miami should be internationally known at this point for getting the best out of every opponent they face, no matter how dismal or desperate the opposing roster appears to be.
Miami has given up 31 three-point makes the past two games. It’s all their opponents can offer. While it may be enough to steal a regular season game or two, it’s not even close to what can actually take down the Heat in a seven-game series.
Los Angeles led by as much as ten in the first quarter and were up by as much as eight early in the second quarter, before seven consecutive points from Wade and an Allen three tied it up.
The turning point of the game, however, came during a stretch that lasted less than two minutes and featured the Heat scoring two points on five consecutive possessions, each shot coming right near the rim, eight points coming from Bosh alone.
Bosh actually scored 13 of Miami’s final 15 shots of the half, offsetting an 0-for-6 start.
Miami continues their road trip with a trip a few miles north to play a Sacramento team they had beaten by 19 last week in the Triple A.