No one can forget how the game ended the last time these teams played on December 4th 2009. Just for the few who missed it; the Lakers were down by two with 3.2 seconds left, Kobe was prepared to drive to the basket and tie the game, his foot slipped when he got the ball, Miami’s defense forced him into taking an off balance three point shot that he banked off the glass at the buzzer to cap a 33 point effort and give the Lakers a 108-107 victory.
Bryant’s game winning shot was one of his four buzzer beaters this season. These teams have played several close games, but these are two different teams than the ones that face off in December. The Lakers have the best record in the Western Conference and the Heat are hovering around .500 once again and fighting to make an appearance in the postseason.
The Heat are scoring and allowing 95 points per game, they are 15-14 at American Airlines Arena, and 6-4 in their last 10 games. The Lakers have won eight of their last 10 games.
The difference for the Lakers, once they limits their turnovers, has been consistency, execution down the stretch, and defense.
Ron Artest has played outstanding defense, it is time to gloss him with the nickname ‘the Sheriff’ due to the way he has been locking players up.
It would be a travesty if Ron Artest name, like coach Phil Jackson’s when it comes to Coach of the Year awards, name isn’t mentioned. He has to be in consideration for the Defensive Player of the Year. It might not have been immediate, but he has shown what type of advantage he can bring to the Lakers.
There will always be doubters, but for those of us paying attention, we can tell said doubters to view the decrease in production of players being placed on the ‘Ron-Ron frustration list’ which has some well-known names on it, such as Danny Granger, Carmelo Anthony, Corry Maggete, Paul Pierce, Rudy Gay, Shawn Marion, and Andre Iguodala.
There will be more names added to this ever increasing list between now and the Lakers receiving their 16th Championship ring.
The key to the Los Angeles beating Miami Heat will be slowing down Dwayne Wade. Arguably the third best player in the game; what doesn’t need to be argued is the fact that he is one of the leagues best. An argument can be made that he is a valid number two player away from being unstoppable. The best way for the Lakers to defend him tonight is to be physical with him. He is going to get his share of foul calls but the more you can force him to shoot from the perimeter the better it is for the defense.
Wade will have to match up with the best player in the game, Kobe Bryant. Bryant’s shooting touch will return, but he is still scoring and getting his teammates involved. The Lakers front line will have to be huge again. The Lakers length will present several match-up problems for the Heat like several other teams.
It was great to see the Lakers blowout the Pacers with everyone getting involved. The contributions of Lamar Odom, Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown are great to see and have become an asset to this team. The Lakers will win this game using excellent ball movement and excellent player movement as well as outworking the Heat and executing down the stretch with the leagues best player leading the way.
Tip-off: 5:00 PM PST
- Los Angeles: KCAL 9 (Joel Myers & Stu Lantz) & TNT
- Miami: TNT
- Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- Miami: 940 AM WINZ (Mike Inglis & John Crotty)
- Luke Walton (Back) Out
- Kobe Bryant ( Sprained Tendon, Left Ankle/Avulsion fracture, right index finger)
- Sasha Vujacic (Sprained Shoulder) Out
- Shannon Brown (Sprained Right Thumb)
- SG Dwayne Wade (Calf Injury) Listed as Day-to-Day
- PG Mario Chalmers (Right Thumb Injury) Listed as Day-to-Day