Lakers Gameday | 02/10/08 | Lakers 104, Heat 94
Marion's double-double in Heat debut not enough to overcome 33 from Kobe
Shawn Marion's debut was strong. It just wasn't enough for the Miami Heat to stop Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Bryant scored 33 points, and the Lakers used a 16-2 second-half run to pull away and beat the skidding Heat 104-94 Sunday in Miami's first home game of its post-Shaquille O'Neal era.
Mark Blount finished with 22 points for Miami, which has lost seven straight games and 22 of its last 23. A two-point win over the Indiana Pacers -- who played that day without Jermaine O'Neal and Jamaal Tinsley -- is Miami's only victory since Dec. 22.
Dwyane Wade scored 19 for Miami, and Marion, playing his first game for the Heat since Wednesday's stunning deal that sent O'Neal to the Phoenix Suns for he and Marcus Banks, finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds.
Lamar Odom finished with 15 points and 18 rebounds for the Lakers, who've won five of seven so far on a nine-game road trip that'll take them to the All-Star break. Sasha Vujacic scored 13 points and Pau Gasol added 12.
Dorell Wright scored 15 and Jason Williams had 10 for the Heat, who put all five starters in double figures but whose bench was outscored 30-13.
The Lakers led by 17 with 8 minutes remaining, before the Heat made things plenty interesting.
Blount's 3-pointer with 2:43 left got the Heat within nine, and on the next possession, Bryant inexplicably fouled Wade on a 3-point try. The 2006 Finals MVP hit two free throws, added two more a few seconds later, and followed it all with a steal and layup with 1:28 left to get Miami within 98-94.
But Gasol easily scored over Banks -- he's only a foot shorter than the Lakers' new center -- with 1:04 left, restoring the Lakers' six-point margin.
With the Lakers -- another of Shaq's former teams-- in town, the Heat had planned to make Sunday's game a celebration of O'Neal, with a halftime montage of videos and highlights featuring his first 3 1/2 years in Miami.
Those plans were quickly aborted, of course.
O'Neal's locker stall was cleaned out, his nameplate gone, and even his spot next to Wade in Miami's national-anthem formation remained empty. Banks was assigned the locker next to O'Neal's former spot, and Marion's jersey was placed in the locker formerly occupied by Luke Jackson, who was waived to make room for the two former Suns.
Marion took the microphone shortly before tip-off, to a rousing ovation.
"I'm happy to be a part of this Heat organziation and we're trying to build for the future," Marion said.
But images of the championship past -- including one poignant shot of O'Neal and Heat coach Pat Riley sharing a quiet moment after the Heat won the Eastern Conference title -- still plaster the walls around Miami's locker room.
And they'll stay, too, permanent tributes of what Miami did with O'Neal here.
"Being an Irish guy, I'm pretty sentimental and nostalgic," Riley said. "That's the way I am. ... Shaq will forever be a player that I think did an incredible amount for me and for this franchise. I don't care what's written or how it's written."
There were still more than a few O'Neal jerseys donned by fans, but the Miami crowd seemed to take a quick liking to Marion.
His first touch in a Heat uniform led to points, when he found Wright for a layup 3:18 after tipoff. And his first basket gave Miami its first lead Sunday, a putback of Wade's miss that gave the Heat a 16-14 edge with 3:26 left in the opening quarter.
It didn't last long.
Bryant found Jordan Farmar for a wide-open 3 that put the Lakers ahead 25-24 at the first-quarter buzzer, and Los Angeles didn't trail again. Vujacic went 4-for-4 for 10 points in his first five minutes of playing time, staking the Lakers to a 35-28 lead, and the margin was 51-47 at halftime.
Marion had seven points in the third quarter, trying to keep the Heat close, but the Lakers were just too strong.
Williams missed a pullup 3-pointer on a rare 5-on-1 fast break late in the third, and Wade was charged with a turnover trying a pass during a 2-on-1 break on Miami's next possession. That started what became the game-deciding 16-2 Lakers run, one that transformed a three-point contest into an 92-75 lead.
Last week, the Los Angeles Lakers made a trade that potentially made them the team to beat in the Western Conference. The Miami Heat have more modest expectations after pulling off their own blockbuster deal.
After acquiring Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks in exchange for Shaquille O'Neal, the last-place Heat hope to avoid their 22nd loss in 23 games as both newcomers are expected to make their debuts against the new-look Lakers in Miami on Sunday.
With the worst record in the NBA thanks to one of the worst stretches in franchise history, Miami (9-39) shook things up on Wednesday, when it sent O'Neal to Phoenix for Marion and Banks. The Heat lost a 14-time All-Star that helped deliver the franchise's first championship in 2006, but they acquired two pieces for what coach and team president Pat Riley hopes is a quick rebuilding process.
"Today is really about change, it's about moving on, it's about getting on with what's going to happen in the Miami Heat's future," Riley said Wednesday. "And these are two people who are going to start that."
Marion, a four-time All-Star, has career averages of 18.4 points and 10.0 rebounds, and has a reputation as one of the most versatile defenders in the NBA. Banks, a fifth-year guard, has seen limited playing time since he was a lottery pick in the 2003 draft, but is expected to see an increased role in Miami.
"The sky's the limit," Marion said of the Heat's potential. "Can't get any worse. We can only get better now."
The Heat will likely need immediate improvement to compete with the Lakers (32-17), who feel they solidified their status as NBA title contenders when they acquired Pau Gasol from Memphis on Feb. 1.
Los Angeles has won two of three games with Gasol, who's averaging 22.0 points and 9.3 rebounds while shooting 61.4 percent from the field in those games. He had 30 points and nine boards in the Lakers' 117-113 victory over Orlando on Friday night.
"With all (Gasol's) skills, it's going to be a seamless transition for us," said Kobe Bryant, who had 36 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. "He has the ability to do everything on the floor, whether it's pass, shoot, rebound or defend. Adding him makes us a very strong team."
Bryant had struggled in his previous two games, combining to go 7-for-29 from the field while playing with a dislocated pinkie finger on his right hand, but he appears to be back on track.
"Having Kobe takes a whole lot of pressure off my shoulders," Gasol said. "This is an amazing opportunity for me and I want to make the very best of it every single night."
Marion will have his own superstar teammate in Dwyane Wade. However, Wade is averaging 16.6 points and shooting 37.7 percent from the field in his last five games after averaging 32.6 points in his previous five contests. He went 5-for-17 and had 19 points as Miami fell to 1-21 since Christmas with a 101-84 loss to Philadelphia on Thursday.
"I don't look at the standings," Wade said after that game. "I know we are at the bottom."
Wade, though, is encouraged by Wednesday's trade.
"They'll add to our team, that's for sure," he said.Copyright 2007 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
SEASON & SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers have split each of the last two season’s series with Miami 1-1. This will be the 39th meeting between the two franchises with the Lakers holding a 25-13 all-time lead. In their last 10 games, the Lakers are 5-5 against the Heat. In Miami, the Lakers have lost three straight contests and are 4-6 in their last ten games in Miami. The Lakers are 5-3 all-time against Miami at STAPLES Center and are 4-1 in their last four contests in Los Angeles. Prior to this season, the Heat and Lakers have met on Christmas day in each of the previous three seasons (0-3). Under head coach Phil Jackson, Los Angeles is 9-5 versus Miami. Since Phil Jackson joined the Lakers prior to the 1999-00 season, he and former Lakers head coach Pat Riley have met on 12 occasions with Jackson holding a 7-5 edge in those games. Overall, Jackson and Riley have met a total of 41 times during the regular season, with Jackson winning 24 to Riley’s 17. As head coaches with the Lakers, Jackson (406) and Riley (533) account for 939 of the Lakers 2,423 victories, more than 1/3 (38.8%) of all Lakers victories in the Los Angeles era. Furthermore, Lakers forward Lamar Odom played one season for the Heat, averaging 17.1 points and 9.7 rebounds in 80 games.
GASOL PASSES 9,000 POINTS