Lakers vs. Miami: Lakers get beat-down by Heat on Christmas Day
For all the hype about the Lakers and Miami Heat playing on Christmas Day, for all the talk about all the stars on the court, it was a dud.
Well, not if you are a Heat fan, of which there were only a few at Staples Center on Saturday.
The biggest stars were the Heat and its Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Not even Kobe Bryant could keep up with that threesome.
Bryant had 17 points, but he was just six-for-16 shooting from the field. Bryant finished with seven assists and six rebounds.
James had a triple-double, scoring 27 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and handing out 10 assists.
Bosh had 24 points and 13 rebounds and Wade had 18 points, six assists and five rebounds.
There was a moment in the fourth quarter when Bryant and James got into a heated exchange walking up the court. It happened right after Bryant had been called for an offensive foul.
The Lakers now have lost two straight and next play the Spurs in San Antonio on Tuesday. The Spurs are 25-4, the best record in the NBA.
When the Lakers fell behind, 84-69, the fans booed them.
But even that was light-hearted.
Heat 75, Lakers 64 (end of third quarter)
The Lakers still didn't play very good defense, falling behind by as many as 16 points during the third.
But they continued to work at it, giving themselves a chance by pulling to within 11 points entering the fourth.
Kobe Bryant scored, Pau Gasol scored and Bryant added a three-pointer, helping the Lakers creep to within 51-45.
But the Heat stood firm, going on an 11-3 run to open a 62-48 lead with 6:02 left in the third quarter.
The Lakers went down by 68-52 before they responded again.
Derek Fisher made a three-pointer, Lamar Odom scored and Gasol dunked off a lob pass, pulling the Lakers to within 70-59.
That forced the Heat to call a timeout with 2:46 left in the third.
Heat 47, Lakers 38 (end of first half)
Kobe Bryant, upset when no fouled was called, was hit with a technical foul with 2:59 left in the first half. That was Bryant's third technical foul in two games.
Then there was a technical foul called on Ron Artest and LeBron James with 10.7 seconds left in the second quarter. The two had become entangled down low and pushed each other.
It was clear the game was getting physical and chippy, and that neither team was going to back down.
The problem for the Lakers is that they couldn't stop Chris Bosh, who had 18 points and eight rebounds in the first half.
James had 11 points and Dwyane Wade had 10.
The problem for the Lakers is that Bryant and Pau Gasol weren't scoring or making enough shots.
Bryant had eight points, but he was just three for 10 from the field. Gasol had six points on three-for-11 shooting.
The Heat opened the second quarter going to Bosh. Bosh made one of two free throws and scored another field goal.
After Dwyane Wade scored for a 25-14 Heat lead, the Lakers know knew for sure they had to step up their game.
When the Lakers went down, 33-20 after a Mario Chalmers three-pointer later in the second, L.A. was in trouble and had to fight its way out.
The Lakers pulled to within 35-28 on a bank shot by Bryant, forcing the Heat to call a timeout with 4:15 left in the second quarter.
Heat 20, Lakers 14 (end of first quarter)
Neither team shot lights-out in the first quarter.
In fact, both the Lakers and Heat were horrible from the field, making the start of the game look real ugly.
Kobe Bryant was 0-for-4 shooting in the first as he failed to score. Pau Gasol was 0-for-7 shooting, also not scoring in the first.
That was a big reason why the Lakers made onlyt 24% of their first-quarter shots.
The Heat shot only 36.4% from the field, but it got nine points from Chris Bosh and eight from LeBron James, using a 7-0 spurt to open a lead.
The fans inside Staples Center booed James when he was introduced in the starting lineup.
The fans inside the arena booed James when he threw the chalk into the air.
It seemed obvious that James was not well-liked by the Lakers' fans, just like he hasn't been liked by most NBA fans since he left the Cleveland Cavaliers and joined Dwyane Wade and Bosh in Miami to form the Super Friends team last summer.
One of the important matchups was between James and Ron Artest.
But it didn't show up in the first quarter because Artest picked up his second foul with 9:26 left in the period and had to take a seat on the bench.
The time has finally arrived when the much-hyped game between the Lakers and Miami Heat is ready to be played on Christmas Day at Staples Center.
All the parties are ready, from Kobe Bryant to Pau Gasol to Dwyane Wade to LeBron James.
It'll be televised on ABC.
"This is just a matchup that's made for television," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. "A good one."
For the Lakers, this is not a statement game.
But it is a game in which they want to get back on track after an embarrassing loss to the undermanned Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night.
"I sensed anger in Kobe, obviously," Jackson said, referring to how his star guard hasn't talked to the media in three days. "But I didn't sense a lot anger in our team. I think they were disappointed in their effort, obviously. I didn't sense that kind of anger that rises in a team when they know that they have disappointed themselves."
One of the more intriguing matchups will be between Ron Artest and James.
It'll be up to Artest to try to slow down James on defense.
Artest will mostly guard James individually.
"We know Ron takes the bait, likes to have the challenge, and we anticipate he'll try to do what he does best against James," Jackson said.
The hope is that Artest is fully into the game, into defending James.
After the game Saturday, Artest will go across the street from Staples Center to L.A. Live and pull the ticket for the raffle he is having for a fan to win his NBA championship ring.
"He's been a little disconnected, but I don't think it's anything unusual," Jackson joked. "Normal disconnected Ron."
So how does Jackson connect Artest before the game?
"He'll get there," Jackson said. "He's got a way of doing it on his own, and he'll come in and focus."
He acknowledged that he bought a few raffle tickets.
Jackson was asked what he would do if he won the raffle and Artest's ring, seeing as he already has 11 championship rings of his own as a coach.
"That's an optimistic view," Jackson said, laughing. "I wouldn't have thought of it that way."
-- Broderick Turner
Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant fouls Miami power forward Chris Bosh during action in the fourth quarter Saturday at Staples Center. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times