While the Los Angeles Lakers keep trying to find a way and get passed the whole Kobe Bryant vs Dwight Howard feud, which believe it or not, is destroying this team’s last chance of making the NBA playoffs, the Miami Heat are relishing every chance they get to see Dwyane Wade partner with LeBron James for the kind of basketball that keeps getting better and better.
Another win, fifth in a row for the Miami Heat, and a second (107-97) one in less than a month against the Los Angeles Lakers. Earlier this season, it was mentioned that this would be the NBA finals, and that the Los Angeles Lakers might be the favorites to win the NBA title. Well… the Lakers are 3.5 games behind the Houston Rockets for the 8th and final spot in the postseason, while the Miami Heat are leading the Eastern Conference, while LeBron James has entered one of the more dominant phases of his career.
Just how good has he been lately? James finished with 32 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals on 12-18 shooting against the Lakers. He has scored at least 30 points while shooting better than 60% from the field in five consecutive games. That hasn’t happened since the 1981-1982 season, accomplished by Moses Malone. Adrian Dantley did it two years earlier. James isn’t just playing great basketball and putting up the numbers he said he can if he just focuses on scoring, but he’s not making any mistakes along the way.
And the Lakers didn’t make it too hard on the Heat except for the earlier minutes, in which Dwight Howard still had some energy left, and before the Heat took their defense to another level in the fourth, forcing the Lakers to turn the ball over 7 times in the final quarter. The Heat scored 19 points on the break while allowing only 4 by the Lakers, showcasing another huge weakness in the NBA’s version of the Galacticos – their transition game, with Steve Nash the only player to make an effort and stop fast breaks, not really standing a chance against a striding James and Wade.
Wade finished with 30 points, also with 12-18 from the field. This as just the fourth time in NBA history that a pair of teammates scored 30+ points while shooting 65% or better from the field against the Lakers. The last time that happened was 2007 by Mike Miller and Pau Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies, when the Lakers were bad, but not as struggling as they are now.
No excuses are left, as the Heat, one of the worst rebounding teams in the league, had no problem getting second shot after second shot, scoring with ease any time they got into the paint with 46 points. It wasn’t just James and Wade not trying to force their shots; Dwight Howard is injured, but playing injured because Kobe Bryant called him out in front of the entire team and the nation.
Howard had no choice but to give it what he has, but it’s hard for him to score, defend and rebound with a clipped wing, finishing with 15 points and 9 rebounds. Still, when he was on the floor, the Lakers were very close to the Heat. Maybe if he would have gotten more looks at the basket, the game would have been closer in the final minutes. In 11 minutes with Kobe Bryant on the bench,Dwight Howard went 4-of-4 from the field and scored 9 points. In 30 minutes with Bryant on the floor, Howard shot only five times, making two. Maybe it’s just a number, maybe things are really that bad between them.