In one of the most-forgettable Christmas Day games the Lakers have played, the Miami Heat flexed their muscle, and embarrassed the champs 96-80 at Staples Center, in front a huge national television audience.
After the game got off to a good start for the Lakers with an 8-4 lead, it fell apart just that quick. LeBron James punished the the Laker defense all game long, got Ron Artest to commit two silly fouls early, and had his way with every other defender thrown at him. James finished the game with a triple-double, scoring a game-high 27 points, with 11 rebounds, and 10 assists, hitting 5-6 from the three-point line.
Chris Bosh, who has had his troubles against the Lakers in the past as a member of the Toronto Raptors, found little resistance up front from Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, or Andrew Bynum on his way to 24 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, including hitting 11-17 from the floor.
There’s really nothing positive the Lakers can take from a second-straight beat-down at home. With both the Lakers and the Heat looking for a signature win to start the season, it was the the visitors from Miami who would get the job done on this day. They dominated every statistical category, including outrebounding a much bigger Laker front line 44-43. The Lakers shot a paltry 40.5% from the floor, and just 6-19 (31.6%) from the three-point line.
Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 17 points, six rebounds, and seven assists, but he was frustrated all game long by his teammates’ struggles as well as the officiating. After getting kicked out of Tuesday’s game against Milwaukee with two technical fouls, he picked up another one on Saturday arguing with referees over non-calls.
Pau Gasol also had 17 points to go along with eight rebounds, but was a non-factor most of the game. Lamar Odom had 14 points and nine rebounds, and Shannon Brown scored 10 off the bench. No other Laker scored more than eight points.
The Heat held the Lakers to a season-low 14 points in the first quarter, and led 45-36 at the half. After the Lakers got as close as 51-45, the Heat never let them get that close again. Every time the Lakers made any run at the game, James continued to bury the them with long range daggers. And if it wasn’t James hitting shots from deep, it was Mario Chalmers, who hit 3-9 from beyond the arc, en route to 13 points off the bench.
About the only bright spot for the Lakers was that Dwyane Wade had a sub-par game, scoring just 18 points on 6-17 from the floor. But he was hardly needed on this day, and he did an admirable job defensively against Bryant.
For the first time in Los Angeles Lakers’ history, the team suffered back-to-back home losses of 16 points or more, and only averaged a miserable 79.5 points in the process.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Lakers this week. Their next game is Tuesday in San Antonio against the Spurs, who have the best record in basketball at 26-4. They then play a back-to-back game in New Orleans on Wednesday against the Hornets. And they have had a notoriously hard time winning in New Orleans over the years, no matter how good the Hornets are.