For two years, the Miami Heat were the most drama-filled franchise in the NBA, just for having two superstars suddenly join forces, and need more than one season to win the NBA title. The Los Angeles Lakers, always something close to a super-team are the focus of those kind of news this season, usually with only bad things coming out from the most disappointing team in the league.
A home loss to the Miami Heat nearly four weeks ago was what brought the Lakers down to earth after another short winning streak that made them think they’ve turned a corner. LeBron James was everything you can ask from him and more in a big time game – James finished with 39 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 steals in another display of who is the best player in the NBA. In recent weeks it’s been pretty much that for James, who isn’t just posting the usual 30-5-5 and better numbers, but he can’t seem to miss a shot.
James is averaging 30.2 points per game in February, while making 68.4% of his shots, including 9-11 en route to 31 points in the latest win and a 13-14 night against the Bobcats, scoring at least 30 points over the last four games. The Heat, with a 21-3 record at home, haven’t lost in Miami since a January 4 loss to the Chicago Bulls. The Lakers, allowing 100.6 points per game this season, are no Chicago Bulls, while the Heat are relying on their big three in recent games, with Wade averaging 24 points per game in his last 10; Bosh is averaging 21.3 points per game in February.
And all that is hosting the Lakers, a team that hardly wins against plus .500 teams on the road (except for that win against the Nets last week, their first against a plus .500 team on the road since December at Golden State), and seems to be torn apart in the locker room. Dwight Howard is playing, injured, and doesn’t like it. He’s averaging 10.5 points and 10 rebounds in the two games since coming back, obviously not getting the kind of love he did from Kobe Bryant during the short Kobe’s passing phase.
Bryant, who called out Howard in front of the entire team, maybe as one last act of desperation to lift the Lakers into a position where they can make the playoffs. Bryant has led the Lakers in scoring the last couple of games, but after five consecutive games with 8 assists or more, Bryant is averaging only 4.3 over the last four, while shooting 41.4% from the field over the last four games. The Lakers are still in what they would call a good period, winning seven of their last nine games, although only one of those wins since January 27 came against a team with a plus .500 record.
Prediction – The Lakers looked terrible in Boston, and playing against the Miami Heat is just as tough, if not more. Unless Bryant and Dwight Howard put aside their ego-fueled feud, there’s no chance the Lakers are even making this a close game, let alone winning it.