Game Notes: Lakers at Heat
Kobe and Wade matchup in a made-for-TV game.
by Sam Guelil
This is what basketball is all about. The defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers make a visit to South Beach to battle the Miami Heat. The real buzz however, is the big-time individual matchup between two of the League’s premier superstars. Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade are two of the best players on the planet. I believe the word great gets thrown around too often in today’s society, but that’s not the case with these two players. Personally, I think Kobe is still the best player in the League, and the second greatest player I’ve ever seen after Michael Jordan. Don’t get me wrong LeBron is right there and they call him King James, but until he gets a title, Kobe still wears the crown.
I got to the arena extra early to watch shoot around. Kobe was the first player out and was all alone for a while. He worked on a lot of post moves and long distance shooting to try and get out of his mini shooting slump. He doesn’t miss that often in games, but watching this man warm-up is quite the site. When he was done he chilled for a bit with another great player in his own sport, St. Louis Cardinal slugger Albert Jujols, who was with his son. It’s cool to see great players in awe of other great players.
Also in the building tonight are NBA legend Scottie Pippen, Dolphin Jason Taylor, and hip hop artist Timberland. The TNT crew was also on hand to televise this game. Marv Albert, Mike Fratello, and Reggie Miller are calling the tonight’s game.
There is a definite buzz and excitement for the Lakers tonight. There is no shortage of Lakers jersey’s and fans in the building. They erupt when the team is announced and explode when Kobe is introduced. Well, the teams are ready, the lights are on, and the stage is set.
Let’s get it…
This is what you love to see. Kobe and Wade are defending each other to start out the game.
Both teams come out with a lot of energy and right off the bat you know this isn’t your average regular season basketball game. It’s always nice to see two teams playing hard.
Kobe knocks down his first shot of the game and Wade’s mindset is clearly to attack the basket. Quentin Richardson drills one from downtown to put the Heat on the board. Wade’s aggressiveness is getting him trips to the line where finishes off a three-point play. And half-way thru the quarter Miami is up 13-12.
Kobe has built a nice home for himself in Los Angeles, but he’s also built another one this year in the post. He’s really worked hard on this during the summer with former Rocket great Hakeem Olajuwon. He’s taking the shorter Heat star down to the post and draws a foul. Kobe goes to the line and hears chants for MVP…while on the road…unbelievable.
It is really loud in hear and Bryant is now being guarded be the Heat’s Dorell Wright, who has checked into the game. Kobe gets Wright to bite with a pump-fake and draws another foul. Then Bryant makes a spectacular shot. He goes up-and-under with a double clutch off the glass shot in the paint. Kobe would finish with 8 points in the quarter and Wade would go for 10. Q-Rich had 7 points and 3 steals.
Lakers 27 – Heat 26
The two superstars start the second quarter resting on the bench. The Lakers Lamar Odom and Miami’s Jermaine O’Neal answer each other going jumper for jumper and score the next 8 points of the game. It’s now 36-35 with the Heat on top and 5:41 to play.
Kobe and Wade check back in. Bryant hit a great driving layup to put his team up 3. Q-Rich hits another one from downtown and looks like it could be his night. The Heat’s Carlos Arroyo lays one up on a Wade assist. Arroyo got the start tonight and seems to have taken over the point guard position after supplanting Rafer Alston last game.
Lakers center Andrew Bynum throws down a big jam on Jermaine O’Neal. Bynum was also a factor on the boards as he would have 9 in the half and 10 points in the half. Wade would stay scoreless in the second, ending the half with 10 points and 4 assists. Kobe only had one bucket of his own to finish the half with 10 points.
Lakers 47 – Heat 44
Kobe flashes by Wade as these two start off the half guarding each other again. Then after a Heat missed shot, Michael Beasley follows up the play and throws down a crazy one-handed jam on the Lakers Pau Gasol. After the emphatic slam, B-Easy hovers over him and gets T’d up for taunting. All Heat coach Erik Spoelstra would do was smile.
After another Richardson three-pointer, Bryant would tie the game at 57 with a fade away jumper. D-Wade would answer with a nice floater and this game was shaping out to be a classic. Coming out of a timeout, Bryant nailed a three-ball from the parking lot. I mean, this shot was real deep. Q-Rich cans back-to-back trifectas. This man was on fire! Kobe started to defend him earlier after he hit some shots. Bryant was literally right in his face on some makes. Heat lead 67-63 with 4:27 left in the third.
After another Bryant fade away, Lakers forward Ron Artest would hit a jumper. On the following possession Ron-Ron would get fouled by Jermaine O’Neal and those two would have words. Wade came right back with jumper of his own and after a Lakers missed shot Miami secured the rebound. As the quarter came to a close, all of the attention was on Wade’s threat to penetrate the lane. He started to do just that and found a cutting Dorell Wright who threw one down to finish the third. Bryant and Richardson both had 11 points in the quarter and had 21 and 22 respectively. Wade was up to 16 points but was at a game-high 11 assists.
Heat 74 – Lakers 68
After resting the final 55 seconds of the third, Bryant was back in to start the forth. Usually Lakers coach Phil Jackson rests him to start the final session, but he couldn’t afford to rest one of the game’s greatest players.
An Arroyo jumper gave the Heat a 9-point lead and L.A. was forced to call a timeout with 10:04 left. After the timeout, the Lakers Shannon Brown threw down a sick two-handed jam that I’m sure made TNT’s Marv Albert excited. The Lakers would come back with a Jordan Farmar three and another dunk from the high-flying Brown. This one came off an outstanding lob pass from Lamar Odom, which was almost from half court. Miami was forced to take a timeout as they led by 4 with 7:54 to go.
Wade has checked back in and converts with another floating jumper. Kobe answers with a great layup using the euro-step to go by incoming traffic. Then five consecutive points by Wade is combated with a Bryant three who is keeping the defending champs in this one. It’s now 92-87 with the Heat hanging on with just under 3 minutes to go.
Odom would convert on a three-point play to get the lead down to four.
This is a definite playoff-like atmosphere here in Miami tonight.
Derek Fisher, aka Mr. Reliable, drills a three in the corner to make it a one point Heat lead with just under two minutes to go. Miami elects not to take a timeout and Wade flies to the rack converting in traffic. Kobe comes right back at Wade and hits a jumper to get it back to a one-point game. Wade would then take a bad shot from the top of the circle and Odom would secure the board. The Lakers would clear out for Bryant sending everyone to the left side of the floor and putting Quentin Richardson on an island all by himself. He would eventually foul Kobe and Bryant would convert on both free throws giving his team a 97-96 lead with 42.6 seconds left. Timeout Miami.
With under a minute left, Jermaine O’Neal would be whistled for a moving screen quickly giving the Lakers the ball right back. Bryant took a shot that some would debate he got fouled on, but nevertheless didn’t draw any iron. Udonis Haslem controlled the rebound and Miami wouldn’t take a timeout. Everyone in the building knew Wade would have the ball, and he did. With 11.1 seconds left in regulation, Wade was about to drive right and saw Kobe coming over to help. As Bryant went to double, Wade recognized an open Quentin Richardson on the wing, who was left by Bryant for just a split second. That was just enough time to take and make a three-pointer that would give the Heat a 99-97 lead. Timeout Lakers.
L.A. had to go the length of the court and everybody knew Bryant was the man getting the rock. He went very calmly and was in no hurry to get the ball up the floor. Then he changed his speed and hit a jumper right in Wade’s grill as he was falling to his right to tie the game at 99. Wade threw up a tough double clutching shot from the corner but couldn’t hit and we are headed for overtime.
OT started off like the Kobe Bryant show as he hit six straight points for the Lakers giving them a 2-point lead. Arroyo’s jumper tied the game at 105. Then with two minutes left Wade’s in and out dribble forced Fisher to foul. The Lakers guard had to sit as that was his sixth foul. Wade made both and the Heat were up two.
Odom made a jump shot off the window and we were tied again. Jermaine O’Neal broke the tie and on an alley oop pass from D-Wade. Jordan Farmar tied the game on a layup that was called goaltending on a trailing Jermaine O’Neal. Haslem’s 16 foot jumper gave the Heat yet another lead. The score was now 111-109 Miami with 37.3 seconds left.
Down two, the Lakers Phil Jackson called a timeout. I’m not sure if it’s what he originally wanted, but Jordan Farmar missed an 11 footer, Gasol got the offensive rebound, and then found Kobe. Bryant drove to the basket but was met by Jermaine O’Neal who took a charge giving the Heat possession and two point lead with 18.4 seconds left. L.A. was forced to foul Arroyo who went to the line, made both free throws, and put the game out of reach.
Miami Heat 114 – Los Angeles Lakers 111
This was one of the best games played all year in the NBA. It featured 31 lead changes and the game was tied 19 times. It also displayed two of the best player in the game in Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade. Each was equally as impressive. Kobe with his scoring, as he rang the bell for 39 points, and Wade with his unselfishness and ability to distribute. Wade had a season high 14 assists while dropping 27 points, but it was when and how he got these assists that played a big factor. The Lakers were so concerned about his driving ability that they helped onto him as Wade made his moves to the bucket. He often found cutting teammates and showed why he is also one of the game’s elite players. Free throws played a huge factor in this one. The Lakers were killed by the line, shooting just 15-25. The Heat were 21-25 from the strip.
Another main factor was the Heat’s Quentin Richardson. He scored a season high 25 for the game and was 7-11 from downtown. The Heat also went with veteran Udonis Haslem for the better part of the game instead of Michael Beasley. Carlos Arroyo was solid again. He also had a season high 17 points, 5 assists, and zero turnovers.
This game was exciting from jump. There was an enormous buzz before, during, and after the game. It has a playoff-like atmosphere and no shortage of excitement. When the NBA makes those commercials, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some clips from his one.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra on Wade: “He has the ability to affect a game for a win probably more than anybody in the League.”
Lakers coach Phil Jackson on the game: “Penetration cost us the game. A lot of things happened from it. They got three-point shots and alley oops.”
Dwyane Wade on his assist game: “That shows my teammates I’m about winning. I’m not about, ‘I need to hit this shot because Kobe hit one.’ It’s about making sure we all are confident and we all are good. If we do that, that’s going to go a long way rather than me always being the one who has to take the shot and make it.”
Kobe Bryant on the non-call: “I actually stopped playing for a second, I thought I just didn’t hear the whistle.”