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GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Miami Heat 26 15 29 26 99
Play by Play Los Angeles Lakers 22 21 20 25 90
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LeBron's Heat hold off Kobe's Lakers 99-90

By GREG BEACHAM


Posted Jan 18 2013 1:35AM

LOS ANGELES (AP) LeBron James had 39 points and eight assists, Dwyane Wade added 27 points on his 31st birthday and the Miami Heat held off the Los Angeles Lakers 99-90 Thursday night to finish their six-game road trip with three wins.

Ray Allen scored seven of his nine points in the final 5 minutes as the defending NBA champions repelled a late charge by the Lakers, who lost for the seventh time in nine games.

Kobe Bryant scored 13 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter for Los Angeles, which rallied for a brief lead midway through the final period before James and Allen secured the Heat's second win in their last eight road games against the Lakers.

Dwight Howard had 13 points and 16 rebounds, but missed two key free throws with 1:51 left while Miami pulled away, capping the All-Star starting center's 5-for-13 effort at the line. Metta World Peace scored 16 points for the Lakers, who committed 20 turnovers and didn't score in the final 2 1/2 minutes.

Pau Gasol had 12 points and four rebounds in his return from a five-game absence with a concussion for the Lakers, who had hoped to build on consecutive victories following a six-game losing streak that knocked them well out of the Western Conference playoff picture.

Instead, James and Wade demonstrated why they're the champions and the Lakers are in 11th place in the West.

James and Wade got little help until Allen's late flurry, but they didn't need it. Chris Bosh had just seven points and six rebounds in 35 minutes for Miami. Bryant scored at least 20 points in his 23rd consecutive game, but the NBA's leading scorer missed 14 of his first

17 shots. Miami held a narrow lead for most of the first three quarters until Bryant hit two 3-pointers and two jumpers during a 14-3 Lakers run to an 84-81 lead in the fourth quarter.

Allen put the Heat back ahead with a 3-pointer with 4:55 to play, but Bryant tied it with his third 3 of the quarter with 2:33 left. After Wade hit a jumper, Howard missed two free throws - airballing the first - and Allen hit a high-arching jumper in the paint before James iced it with a short bank shot with 49 seconds left.

The game featured four of the 10 starters in next month's All-Star game, with Bryant edging James by roughly 7,800 votes as the top vote-getter in the final results announced earlier in the day. Wade and Howard also will start in Houston.

Bryant is headed to his 15th All-Star game in 17 NBA seasons, starting a record 15 consecutive times, while Howard will be a seven-time All-Star. While Bryant's popularity and success are undeniable, even Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni was somewhat surprised Howard had been voted to a starting spot.

"When you're under .500 and you have two guys on the All-Star (team), that's kind of like, `Really?"' D'Antoni said before the game. "He's coming back from injury, and he's played at the All-Star level the last two or three games."

Earl Clark stayed in the Lakers' starting lineup on his 25th birthday, but Gasol played well off the bench in his first game since Denver's JaVale McGee elbowed him in the face Jan. 6.

Miami had lost everywhere except Northern California on its West Coast trip, but the Heat's blowout win over Golden State on Wednesday night allowed James, Wade and Bosh to rest for the entire fourth quarter.

Miami then got off to a ferocious start with dunks on its first four shots while forcing five Lakers turnovers in the first 3 1/2 minutes. Los Angeles settled down and got back into the game with balanced scoring and good rebounding despite continuing to turn the ball over at an alarming rate.

James and Wade combined for 31 points in the first half, but their seven teammates managed just 13 points on 4-for-21 shooting. The Lakers committed 16 turnovers, but minimized Miami's second-chance points, allowing just two offensive rebounds in the first half after Milwaukee grabbed 21 offensive boards against them two nights earlier.

NOTES: The Lakers visit Miami on Feb. 10 in the final stop of their seven-game road trip while the Grammy Awards take over Staples Center. Los Angeles hasn't won at American Airlines Arena since Feb. 10, 2008. ... Lakers G Steve Blake won't travel with the club on its upcoming three-game road trip while getting more treatment on his injured groin. Blake has played in just five games this season while dealing with an abdominal injury that required surgery. ... Bryant scored at least 20 points in 62 straight games from December 2005 to April 2006. ... Mark Wahlberg, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Queen Latifah, Ellen Pompeo, director Ron Howard and Los Angeles Kings players Dustin Penner, Drew Doughty and Trevor Lewis watched from courtside.

Copyright 2013 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited



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Points James (MIA), 39
Rebounds Howard, 16
Assists James (MIA), 8
Steals Bosh (MIA), 6
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POSTGAME QUOTES



Mike D’Antoni:

On tonight’s performance:
“Just disappointing. I thought we played well enough to beat them. Obviously you got to do more of what LeBron (James) did and (Dwyane) Wade but at the same time having 16 turnovers in the first half led to a lot of points. We should have had some separation where LeBron (James) goes off, you can still withstand that and we didn’t. So at the end of the night, turnovers killed us.”

“That’s a championship team. They turned on all the juices so it’s a good measuring stick. That’s what they do and we have to get better, we got to get smoother. I thought we were a little jittery at first, maybe Earl (Clark) was a little jittery at first and we weren’t real confident and took some unnecessary chances but it just piled up on us a little bit. But again, biggest thing is our energy is there in the sense of defense running much better. We just got to smoothen out our offense, especially down the last four, five minutes and get a little bit better shots.”

On Pau Gasol:
“Pau (Gasol) going to be there. I thought he played well and I didn’t think matchup hurt us. You’re going to be seeing that a lot anyways so might as well get into him.”

On the difference:
“That’s what they do. The first half we just started clogging things up and running down and the ball just quit moving. If it quits moving against this team, you’re in trouble. We didn’t make quick enough decisions. I thought a couple times Dwight (Howard) was rolling down the middle, I have to look at the tape, but the ball just didn’t go ‘bam-bam’ into him. Once you hold it, they don’t back up and that pressure comes and eats you up. We have to do a better job of just getting rid of the ball as soon as you feel a little bit of pressure.”




Dwight Howard:

On how they got the turnover problem under control:
“We stopped rushing. We did a lot better job of accepting the pressure and finding open guys.”

On the Heat’s technique to front the post players:
“They didn’t want us to catch the ball. So, what do you do? You front, help on the backside, and pressure the ball. They made it tough for us to get it inside, but we did a good job on the pick and roll and we got guys open. We had a tough loss.”

On the team’s performance tonight:
“I think we played good for the most part. Without the turnovers I think we would have had a good chance of winning, but we turned the ball over a lot early in the game. It got some of their guys going and made it tough.”




Pau Gasol:

On how it felt to be back on the court tonight:
“It felt good. I had a lot of play in this game so it felt good to be out there and do some good things for the team. From that standpoint it felt really good.”

On if he saw any difference in his play playing with Dwight Howard and playing without Dwight Howard:
“No, not much of a difference if we continue to communicate and continue to complement each other on the floor. Miami’s a tough team because they do a good job of taking away the first option, they front the post, and they are very active from the weak side. They force you to move the ball, so if you don’t do that then you’re putting yourself in a very tough spot. I think we got a good feel tonight, and hopefully we can build on it.”

On what decided the game down the stretch:
“They made some plays, and we missed them on the other end. A turnover here, a couple missed shots. Ray [Allen] made that three in transition, LeBron [James] hit a couple of tough ones and good ones for the team, and we couldn’t reply.”




Kobe Bryant:

On the team’s turnovers:
“[The Heat] did a good job with their speed and really shocking our pick and roll and as a result we turned the ball over quite a bit.”

On starting the game slowly before having an explosive fourth quarter:
“I take responsibility for that. I allowed myself to be too much of a decoy tonight. Should’ve been more aggressive from the start using screens and catching and shooting and things like that.”

On LeBron James:
“Oh incredible performance, he does that consistently though. He’s just a phenomenal player. He’s one of the best that we’ve ever seen. Metta [World Peace] was up for the challenge. He played him well, but LeBron made some tough shots.”

On the handling tonight’s win mentally:
“Mentally it’s easier than dealing with the physical part of it, so it’s the lesser of two evils right now. I’m pretty mentally tough because I’ve been through so much so the mental aspect is not something I’m concerned with but the physical part is taxing.”




Steve Nash:

On the Heat’s play down the stretch:
“They made some big shots, LeBron made a couple Ray Allen made a tough shot over Dwight [Howard] in the lane and we looked a little bit like a team that was new to the situation. We weren’t smooth and we couldn’t get a rhythm and I thought we could have made a lot more money out of a lot of situations over the course of the night that we will down the road, but tonight I think we showed our lack of common experiences.”

On the team’s turnovers:
“I thought maybe we were a little tentative, also they play at a speed defensively, they try to speed you up a little bit and maybe we weren’t used to it. I thought we were maybe just outthinking ourselves instead of just playing and had a bad run there to start the game. I thought we grew a little bit but we have a lot of growing to do.”




Erik Spoelstra:

On combination of disruptive defense and getting after it:
“We talked about it from the very first day that we left Miami on this 10 day road trip and it feels like we’ve been out here for a while, that we wanted to accomplish a few things. We wanted to connect together as a group away from Miami. We wanted to build a road resolve, a toughness to be able to find ways to win games when you’re not shooting the ball necessarily well. Particularly on the road when things don’t always go your way, you don’t have your momentum and you don’t have the confidence of your home crowd, you have to just find different ways to grind. This is a perfect example of that. We never really got into a great flow offensively until late in the fourth quarter. You have to give their defense some credit. Dwight Howard really protects the paint as well as anybody in this league. The last thing that we wanted to accomplish was to get better. Step by step, it wasn’t even progress but we think ultimately we got better on this road trip.”

On +40 points in the paint:
“The aggressiveness, really it ties hand in hand in our attack mentality on both ends of the court. We can attack defensively too, getting into pressuring the ball. Making multiple efforts on possessions, that activates us. When our defense is connected and active like that it gets us those relief points, those dots, those layups in the open court. From there typically our guys stay aggressive.”

On LeBron James at the end of the game:
“I think the play of this trip, was that loose ball long rebound. That epitomizes what LeBron James is all about. Whatever it takes to win a basketball game, that’s what he is willing to do. That’s the best player in the league throwing his body out there in harm’s way to come up with a big rebound, completely horizontal on the floor that was a big possession for us. As a team we’ve come a long way in the last two and a half years in closing times of fourth quarters. We’ve gained a lot of confidence in our half-court offense execution.”




LeBron James:

On what they did to frustrate Kobe Bryant tonight:
“I wouldn’t say frustrate. Every time he took a shot we wanted to contest, not put him on the free-throw line, and limit his easy buckets. If he makes some we can live with it. He’s got 30,000 points plus so he’s going to make a couple.”

On the importance of tonight’s win:
“It was very important for us. We want to continue to get better, and end this six game road trip on the right foot. Coming into this game we were 2-3, so we finished .500 on the road, and got a good quality win tonight.”




Dwyane Wade:

On the game:
“The start of the game is how we wanted to start. We started off getting steals, turnovers, and getting out and getting some easy buckets. We kind of got ourselves into it and as the game settled in, I thought we did a good job for the most part of running the offence. Good team to trust, even if we miss shots. And obviously me and LeBron were on the attack and I was able to lead our team to a good victory.”

“[Kobe] is going to score points. He is one of the greatest to ever do it. Our job is to try to make him take some tough shots. Some nights you’re going to make him take tough shots and he’s going to make them and some nights you have a night like tonight. So after that we did our best to rebound the ball. They are a very big team, but I thought we did a good job of having collective togetherness on the defense end of the floor and offensively we made the right plays and made it happen.”

“I thought we did a great job on the defensive end of turning up the pressure. Trapping guys a little bit and making them make tough passes where they have to force a few shots. We had two tough games on this road trip… and we wanted to come out on the winning end of this one.”




Chris Bosh:

On the game:
“It was a whole team effort. Everybody who was involved did a great job from the pressure on the point guards to trying to make them work as much as possible for everything. Fortunately, we got out of here with a win”

“Against good teams it is always a game of runs, especially when it is so close. Those two minutes can make up the whole game. They are always close and you always want to get some separation. We pride ourselves on our defense. We started out aggressive and finished aggressive.”

“We are trying to work on our closing. That is what it is all about. In order to win on the road you have to get good starts and good finishes. And even then you are probably only going to win by a few points, but that’s the toughness of playing on the road, especially against good teams like L.A. We are glad we could end the road trip on the right note.”

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HEAT-LAKERS PREVIEW

By NOEY KUPCHAN

Posted Jan 17 2013 2:47AM

After watching the Miami Heat ride their trio of superstars to last season's NBA championship, many believed the Los Angeles Lakers' pairing of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash with Kobe Bryant would put them on the same level.

While things haven't exactly gone as planned, it appears the Lakers may finally be headed down the right path.

Pau Gasol's expected return from a concussion should give Los Angeles a boost as it tries to win three straight for the first time in over three weeks Thursday night in a much-anticipated showdown against LeBron James and visiting Miami.

Sitting in 11th place in the Western Conference, much has been made about the Lakers' early season woes. After dropping its first six games of 2013, though, Los Angeles (17-21) has picked up the pace.

Howard had 22 points and 14 rebounds in his first game back since missing three due to a torn labrum as the Lakers beat Cleveland 113-93 on Sunday, then posted 31 and 16 two nights later in a 104-88 win over Milwaukee. Bryant also came up big with 31 points against the Bucks.

Los Angeles, which has won six of its last seven matchups against East foes, is 7-0 at home when Howard scores at least 22.

"When we play the way we played these last two games, I don't see anybody beating us," Howard said. "The problem is we have to do it on a consistent basis and not have any lapses during the game. We're learning, but stuff like that takes time. ... When we stay focused and we stay together, we'll be great."

Hoping to have put their recent struggles behind them, the Lakers are now eager to see how they stack up against the Heat (25-12) - especially with Gasol expected to return following a five-game absence.

Los Angeles had dropped four straight in this series before pulling out a 93-83 home victory March 4 behind 33 points from Bryant. Miami has lost six of seven at Staples Center, with its lone win coming 96-80 on Dec. 25, 2010, thanks to James' 27 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

"It's a good measuring stick for us to see how much we've improved since last week, when we played against several top teams and they all beat us," Bryant said. "This is a big test with the defending champs coming to town."

Miami entered Wednesday having lost three of four on its six-game road trip before blowing out Golden State 92-75 on what was a historic night for James.

The three-time league MVP - at 28 years, 17 days - became the youngest player in NBA history to score 20,000 points, and also surpassed 5,000 assists, compiling 25 and 10 to go along with seven boards. Bryant held the previous record, reaching 20,000 points at 29 years, 122 days.

"It means everything," said James, averaging 30.0 points over his last six road games against the Lakers. "It means a lot. First of all, like I continue to say, it means I've been able to be healthy. To be out on the floor and do what I love to do, I love the game of basketball and I try to give everything to the game. And hopefully it continues to give back to me."

James is just the 38th player to reach the 20,000-point mark.

"He's a special guy," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "He's a special player. He's a once-in-a-generational type of player."

Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers both chipped in 15 points Wednesday while Chris Bosh added 11 for Miami, which outscored the Warriors 22-5 in transition to improve to 9-9 on the road. The Heat are 15-2 when Chalmers scores at least eight.

James, Wade and Bosh all figure to be well rested Thursday after sitting out the entire fourth quarter against Golden State. The Heat are 4-1 in the second of back-to-backs.


Copyright 2012 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
Probable Starters .
  Lakers    
  #15 World Peace SF #6 James  
  #6 ClarkPF #40 Haslem  
  #12 Howard C #1 Bosh  
  #24 Bryant SG #3 Wade  
  #10 Nash PG #15 Chalmers  


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Lakers Steve Blake
(abdominal surgery) is out.
Earl Clark
(gastroenteritis) is questionable.
Pau Gasol
(concussion) is out.
Jordan Hill
(right hip /herniated disc) is out.
Dwight Howard
(torn labrum, right shoulder) is probable.
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01/17 - MIA @ LAL
02/10 - LAL @ MIA
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