HEAT suffer heart-breaking loss
By GREG BEACHAM,
LOS ANGELES (AP) Kobe Bryant banked
in a 3-pointer over Dwyane Wade’s defense at the buzzer, ending the
superstars’ sensational duel and sending the Los Angeles Lakers to
their eighth straight victory, 108-107 over the Miami HEAT on Friday
Bryant scored 33 points, but his
off-balance bank shot from straightaway over Wade’s outstretched hand
likely will rank among the most incredible shots of his career.
Wade scored nine of his 26 points in
the final 2 minutes, but missed a free throw with 3.2 seconds left to
give Los Angeles one last chance to tie it with a two-point basket.
Bryant went for the win, and his
improbable shot kept the Lakers atop the overall NBA standings while
sending Miami to its eighth loss in 12 games.
The matchup between U.S. Olympic
teammates was the center of an action-packed game featuring a shoving
match between Jermaine O’Neal and Lamar Odom, leading to Odom’s
ejection with 5:07 to play.
Neither star was perfect, with Wade
struggling to a 7-of-21 shooting performance and Bryant missing the
basket entirely on a potential tying shot with 24 seconds to play. Both
came up big in the final seconds, but Bryant was just a bit bigger in
front of his raucous home crowd.
O’Neal had 16 points and 10 rebounds
for the HEAT, who rebounded from an 18-point loss in Denver one night
earlier with an impressive effort against the defending NBA champions.
After Wade put Miami ahead 102-100
with 49 seconds left on an awkward one-handed shot from the baseline,
Miami appeared to sew up its first road win over the Lakers in five
tries when Wade’s two free throws put the HEAT up 106-102 with 9.3
seconds to play.
Instead, Derek Fisher hit a 3-pointer with 4.3 seconds to play, setting the stage for Wade’s miss and Bryant’s heroics.
Pau Gasol scored 22 points and
Andrew Bynum added 19 points and eight rebounds for the Lakers, who had
won seven straight games by double digits while surging to the top of
the standings. After several games against struggling opponents, they
seemed headed to a narrow defeat in their toughest test in weeks – but
Bryant wouldn’t allow it.
In the midst of an underwhelming
start to the season, Miami showed considerable moxie in its third game
in four days. Quentin Richardson hit a 3-pointer with 2:44 to play to
put the HEAT in front before Wade scored nine of their final 11 points.
Moments earlier, O’Neal and Odom
exchanged shoves after Odom fouled O’Neal, who bumped into Odom while
hanging on the rim after his dunk. When Odom reacted angrily, O’Neal
gave him a one-handed shove in the chest, and Odom responded with a
Both got technical fouls, but the T was Odom’s second, resulting in his ejection.
Bryant’s duel with Wade didn’t start
out with much excitement: Wade scored one point in the first quarter
and didn’t manage a field goal until throwing down two stellar dunks in
the final 2:04 before halftime. Eluding Bryant’s defense by running off
picks, he delivered a two-handed jam with 40 seconds left to trim Los
Angeles’ lead to one point.
But Bryant wrapped up the first half
with a stunner, drawing contact from two defenders before somehow
banking home a jumper at the buzzer while sprawling onto his back.
Bryant gave an icy stare to the referees who didn’t call a foul while
Staples Center roared – but that was just a warmup for the fantastic
The Lakers made just one turnover in
the first half, but 1-for-10 3-point shooting allowed Miami to keep it
close. Wade went cold again in the third, going without a field goal
until back-to-back scores put the HEAT ahead late in the period.
NOTES: Gasol fell to the court
writhing in pain with 6:03 to play after Odom poked him in the left eye
while both players tried to block a layup by Richardson. Gasol
eventually got up and sat on the bench for more treatment, but returned
moments later when Odom was ejected. … Lakers coach Phil Jackson said
he discussed Ron Artest’s recent admission of drinking alcohol during
games a decade ago – not to talk about Artest’s drinking, but about his
decision to discuss it with the media.