NBA Game Summary - LA Lakers at Miami
(Sunday, December 25th)
Final Score: Miami 97, LA Lakers 92
Miami, FL (Sports Network) - Shaquille O'Neal registered 18 points and 17 rebounds to lead the Miami Heat to a 97-92 victory over Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in a Christmas Day battle at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Former Laker Gary Payton netted 21 points, including the go-ahead three- pointer with 1:05 remaining, and Dwyane Wade added 18 for the Heat, who have won six of their last eight games. Jason Williams chipped in 14 points in the victory.
"It's great to win against probably the hottest team in the NBA," Wade said. "The game was very competitive and no one was going to back down from anyone."
Bryant led all scorers with 37 points for the Lakers, who saw a brief two-game winning streak halted. Brian Cook scored 15 points while Lamar Odom contributed 14 points and 16 rebounds in the losing effort. Bryant also had eight rebounds and six assists, but was 12-of-30 from the field, including 0-of-8 from three-point range, as the Lakers lost for just the third time in 12 games.
"I think we gained confidence from this game anyway," Bryant said. "We didn't play well at all and still found ourselves in a position that we should have won this game."
Bryant and O'Neal combined to lead the Lakers to three consecutive NBA titles in 2000, 2001 and 2002, but personality clashes between the two superstars eventually led to the trade of O'Neal to Miami in the summer of 2004.
In addition, current Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who led the Bryant-O'Neal Lakers to the trio of championships, left following the conclusion of the 2003-04 campaign, but returned to LA this season. This contest marked the first time that Jackson has coached against O'Neal since Shaq departed.
"We couldn't stop their second chance points down the stretch," Jackson said. "I thought we had a good shot at winning the game. It was well fought."
Miami is now 5-2 under Pat Riley, the team president who recently took over the head coaching duties as well after Stan Van Gundy resigned in order to spend more time with his family.
"We are wide open. He's letting us run," Payton said of Riley. "That's my game, just getting out in the open court, creating plays and doing things. He's just giving us the freedom to do that."
Last Christmas, Miami edged the Lakers in overtime in Los Angeles.
The score was knotted at 70 apiece entering the fourth quarter.
Bryant had a chance to bring LA within three, but missed two foul shots and the Heat maintained a five-point advantage, 83-78, with 6:24 remaining.
However, just over a minute later, a putback by Odom preceded a three-point play by Smush Parker that created an 83-83 deadlock. Bryant then drilled a long two-point jumper to give LA a slim lead.
Miami then scored the next four points, but a pair of Devean George three- pointers, sandwiched around a dunk by O'Neal, made it 91-89 in favor of the Lakers with 2:06 remaining.
A putback by O'Neal make it 91-91 before Odom made 1-of-2 foul shots for a one-point Lakers lead. Payton then responded with a three-pointer from the left corner and put Miami ahead, 94-92.
LA failed to score on its ensuing possession, and the Heat were able to drain a good portion of the remaining clock despite missing several shots. Wade misfired from the left side and the rebound could not be put home by Udonis Haslem, but the Lakers touched the ball before it went out of bounds.
Bryant fouled Wade on the inbounds pass and with 12.1 seconds remaining, Wade made 1-of-2 from the foul line for a three-point Heat edge.
The Lakers then gave the ball to Bryant for a three-point attempt to tie, but it fell short and Miami took over with 2.1 seconds left. James Posey drilled a pair of foul shots to seal the victory.
"We wanted to run a play and they took it away from us," Bryant said about his last-second shot. "They forced me further down the floor than I had liked to be and I got up and shot and didn't quite make it there."
Miami improved to 2-1 all-time on Christmas Day, while the Lakers are now 18-14 in franchise history on December 25.
The teams stayed tight in the early going and when O'Neal converted a jam with 6:37 remaining in the opening quarter, the contest was tied, 12-12. With under three minutes to go, Bryant's fadeaway jumper gave the Lakers a 22-19 lead.
However, the Heat then embarked on a 9-0 run to assume the lead. A key play during the spurt was a full-court pass from O'Neal to Wade, whose dunk gave Miami a 25-22 edge with 1:37 remaining in the first. The run was capped by a three-point play by Williams, making the score 28-22.
Bryant brought the Lakers back within three with an alley-oop basket and ensuing foul shot with 37 seconds left. The Heat led 31-26 after 12 minutes.
In the second stanza, Miami slowly increased its lead to double digits. With 9:12 left in the half, a putback by O'Neal in the paint made it 37-28 before a running layup by Payton soon after gave the Heat a 41-28 advantage. After both teams missed shots, a nice transition hoop and foul shot by Posey made it 49-35 with under four minutes to go.
The Lakers battled back. Bryant followed up two foul shots with an alley- oop layup that keyed a 10-0 run over the next two-plus minutes to bring the visitors within six, 49-45. Odom's three-point play with 36 seconds remaining saw the Lakers get within 51-48 before Jason Kapono's baseline jumper closed out the half with the Heat leading, 53-48.
In the third quarter, a jumper by Bryant from the right wing gave the Lakers a 60-57 lead with 8:12 to go. A Cook bucket made the score 64-59. From there, the Heat outscored LA, 11-6 throughout the remainder of the stanza, which was capped by Antoine Walker's floater in the lane to make it 70-70 after 36 minutes.
Payton played for the Lakers in the 2003-04 season, the year they lost to the Pistons in the NBA Finals...These teams will meet once more this season, on January 16 at Staples Center...The Heat improved to 10-4 at home this season...Riley and Jackson, two of the most celebrated coaches in the history of the game, met for the 38th time in the regular season. Jackson holds a 22-16 lead...Billionaire and reality television star Donald Trump and wife Melania, Hall of Fame NFL quarterback Dan Marino and reigning American League MVP Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees were among the 20,277 in attendance...The Lakers shot 39 percent from the field, while the Heat finished 36-of-80 (45 percent)...The Lakers won the battle on the glass, 49-47.
12/25 19:36:29 ET