Recap: LeBron, Heat Stave Off Late Lakers Rally

Andre Khatchaturian —  January 23, 2014

The Los Angeles Lakers made a furious rally late in the fourth quarter, but Chris Bosh, LeBron James, and the back-to-back defending champion Miami Heat held off the Purple and Gold and won, 109-102.

Bosh scored 31 and James added 27 as the Heat opened up a 16-point lead in the third quarter. However, the Lakers slowly chipped away at the lead and cut it to 98-94 with 4:09 remaining. A late LeBron three pointer with just over two minutes to go increased the Miami lead to 106-99 and the Heat never looked back from there.

There was a long stretch in the fourth quarter where the Heat would promptly respond to every Laker basket. Both teams were on fire. In fact, from the 5:56 mark of the fourth until the 1:39 point, neither team missed a shot. It was a remarkable display of up and down basketball by both teams and it was Miami’s rapid response to the Lakers’ clutch shooting that sealed the deal for the Heat.

For the Lakers, Pau Gasol and Jodie Meeks (both big factors in the Lakers’ offensive burst in the fourth) each scored 22 points. Kendall Marshall added 11 assists but the Lakers as a whole did not do a great job moving the ball — only recording 21 assists on 40 field goals made. The team shot 36 percent from three point land – a figure that’s closer to their three point average when they lose (33 percent) than their three point average when they win (43 percent).

The most glaring stat of the game, though, was rebounds. The Lakers got murdered on the glass to an awful rebounding team, 48-35. While the Purple and Gold had more offensive rebounds than the Heat, the Heat were more efficient in getting offensive rebounds. Out of 34 rebound opportunities, the Heat had 12 offensive boards while the Lakers grabbed 13 on a whopping 49 opportunities.

As mentioned in the preview, the Heat may have the fewest rebounds per game, but it’s the Lakers that have the lowest rebounding percentage in the league. LeBron had 13 rebounds and absolutely dominated Wesley Johnson and anyone else that attempted to guard him throughout the game. Greg Oden, the oft-injured former No. 1 overall pick, also made his presence felt, getting four offensive rebounds. Meanwhile for the Lakers, Jordan Hill finally got some playing time and got seven rebounds in 22 minutes. Perhaps if he played more, the rebounding disparity may have shrunk because of Hill’s athleticism and rebounding skills.

At the end of the day, the Lakers actually played a solid game against an extremely superior opponent on the road. They fall to 2-3 on the road trip and have now lost eight of their last nine against Miami, but they hung in there and fought hard until the final whistle and that’s all Laker fans can ask from their team at this juncture. The Vegas spread was +11 and they covered it. They only had 11 turnovers, shot over 45 percent from the field, and even got on a little bit of a run at the end. Ultimately, it’s never easy beating the world’s greatest player and another All-Star especially when he’s on his game and the Lakers defense struggled badly against Bosh and James.

The Lakers now head to Orlando to take on the Magic before finishing off their Grammy road trip in the Big Apple.

Andre Khatchaturian

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