Lakers Play Well, But Not Good Enough Against Miami

Three years ago today, the Lakers, with a healthy Kobe Bryant playing 40 minutes but scoring only 17 points, lost a lopsided game to the Miami Heat, 96 to 80, as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh combined to score 69 points. Derek Fisher and Steve Blake were the Lakers’ point guards, and they combined for six points and four assists.

Today, with Kobe Bryant weeks away from next stepping on a court, the Lakers played a close game against the now two-time defending NBA Champion Heat, and after giving away several leads, lost by only six points. James, Wade, and Bosh scored 65 between



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them, and Lakers’ point guards, a very rusty Jordan Farmar making his first appearance in several weeks after suffering a torn hamstring, and Xavier Henry, combined for 17 points and four assists.

Despite the vociferous critics who castigate the current Lakers’ team, coach, management, and ushers, at every bend, they played a better game today than when last these two teams met on Christmas Day, and they deserve some semblance of credit for playing an energetic and competitive game when the “experts” said they would be run off the court.

Pau Gasol played another good game, pulling down a game-high 13 rebounds in only 29 minutes. In a continuing Gasol-Tim Duncan comparison I started the other day,

Duncan played 34 minutes in the Spurs loss today, collecting 14 boards, but scoring only 11 points to Gasol’s 13.

Getting Farmar back was huge, though his first-game-back performance was not very good. But, he ran the court without problem, took an early and hard tumble to the court and escaped unscathed, and appears healthy, and now just needs to play to get back into basketball form. His presence will make a huge difference, as Henry has proved


conclusively that he is NOT a point guard. I was also glad to see Ryan Kelly getting some playing time, and he will eventually develop into a contributing addition to the rotation.

However, once again Chris Kaman never saw the floor, and that continues to be a major error on Mike D’Antoni’s part. When he plays, he plays well, giving the team a solid


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inside presence on defense and rebounding (one rebound every three minutes), as he is shooting 46% and scoring 7.8 points per game while averaging only 17 minutes in the games in which he is granted playing time.

I hate to call any loss a “Moral” victory, but today’s game should be very encouraging to Lakers’ fans. The team is still sitting number ten in the West, two spots removed from a playoff

spot, but the return of Farmer is a big plus as they hit an easier part of the schedule now, playing two of their next four against Utah, and with games in between against Philadelphia and Milwaukee, and then Denver. The now 13-16 Lakers could well be over .500 if not when they play Denver on Jan, 5, certainly when they travel to Dallas for a Jan. 7 game.

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