LOS ANGELES -- The first alley-oop was a gift-wrapped present under the tree. The second, well, the second reality-bending alley-oop dunk from Dwyane Wade to LeBron James on Wednesday at Staples Center felt more like a Christmas miracle.
Running at full speed in the second quarter, James delivered one of the signature highlights of his time with the Heat when he caught a lob off the backboard from Wade and dunked it with his left hand. The play sent the crowd into a frenzy and inspired one of the Lakers’ most iconic figures to take to Twitter.
“The lob D-Wade threw to LeBron was one of the greatest plays I’ve ever seen!” wrote Hall of Famer Magic Johnson on Twitter.
Since James arrived in Miami, the Heat has always delivered the goods on Christmas — winning five in a row on the holiday — and this latest day of basketball celebration was every bit of the best in showmanship and entertainment the NBA could hope to offer its fans.
The Heat defeated the Lakers 101-95 for its sixth win in a row, but the score was secondary to the pair of alley-oops from Wade to James.
“It was like watching the video game NBA Jam,” Shane Battier said.
In that classic video game, players perform flips, twists and spins during dunks that defy physics. That’s an apt comparison of Wade and James’ alley-oops.
“When I see LeBron put his head down and start sprinting up the court, that’s when I know something special is about to happen,” Battier said. “What can you do if you’re a defender? You just get out of the way.”
Said James: “I just tried to beat the defender down there. I feel like in a footrace I can beat a lot of people down the court.”
And if that doesn’t work, he can just jump over people just as easily.
In the Heat’s recent home stand, James blew through a pair of defenders for amazingly athletic dunks that highlighted his physical prowess. The alley-oops highlighted a different aspect of his immense gifts.
“Anytime D-Wade gets on the break I just try to chase him down,” James said. “I’m not sure if he’s going to go in for it or throw the lob to me, but I had no idea what he was going to do with it. He was looking at me. I didn’t know where he was going to go with it — if he was going to bounce it to me or throw it up.”
Wade said the first lob was actually his favorite of the two.
“I like those, the ones where [James] jumps past the ball and then comes back and gets it,” Wade said. “Those are good. It’s not going to look as good if you throw it right in front of the rim. Now, if Chris [Bosh] was coming, and I threw it to him, I would throw it right in front of the rim.”
To that, Bosh offered a dose of his timely deadpan humor.
“I just would let it sail over my head,” Bosh said.
Wade and Bosh both finished with 23 points to lead the Heat in scoring. Wade was 11 of 17 from the field after sitting out the Heat’s overtime victory against the Hawks on Monday. He also had six rebounds and seven assists.
Bosh, who went 0 of 6 from the field to begin the game, finished 9 of 18 overall to go along with 11 rebounds. James finished with 19 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
A three-pointer by Heat reserve Rashard Lewis with 1:31 left in the third quarter put the Heat ahead by nine points, but the plucky Lakers, playing without Kobe Bryant, wouldn’t go away so easily. Nick Young, who has turned into something of a fan favorite in Los Angeles with Bryant out of the lineup, drained a three-pointer at the end of the third quarter cut the Heat’s lead to 76-73.
Young led the Lakers with 20 points off the bench. Guard Jodie Meeks had 17 points. The Lakers shot 41.8 percent.
The team’s traded leads throughout the first four minutes of the fourth quarter before the Heat distanced itself. Led by Wade, the Heat shot 10 of 16 from the field in the final period. The Heat shot 51.3 percent overall.
The Heat (22-6) — winners of six straight — scored 58 points in the paint and had 29 assists.
“There’s no question that his aggressiveness can be a catalyst to our energy,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of James. “He has really started being more aggressive in getting to the rim, making himself available for those catches deep for layups, dunks, put backs — all that stuff that he has been doing the last few games. It just sparks out guys. Everyone knows what to do from there.”
• Chris Andersen left the game in the first half with soreness in his back. Udonis Haslem took Andersen’s place in the rotation.