Dwyane Wade injured his hamstring and Chris Bosh had his worst game of the season.
The Heat still defeated the Lakers.
Two days after upsetting the better professional basketball team in Los Angeles, the Heat salvaged a 78-75 victory against the Lakers on Tuesday at Staples Center. Wade left the game in the first half and Bosh scored just eight points, but the Heat held the Lakers to 31.5 percent shooting and Kobe Bryant missed a three-pointer at the buzzer to tie it.
“What was encouraging about it is it was exactly what we have been talking about the last couple games, embracing that lunch pail, tough, defensive-minded, necessary efforts that we have to make,” Heat coach Spoelstra said. “This might have been our toughest-minded win of the season. We were going through long stretches when we weren’t making shots, but that didn’t affect our defensive commitment at all throughout the course of the game.”
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Coupled with Sunday’s victory against the Clippers, the Staples Center sweep gave the Heat back-to-back victories for the first time since the third week of November. Three in a row will be difficult with a game against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday at Oakland’s Oracle Arena.
“It’s good, two in a row,” Bosh said. “It has been a while. We’re going to try to make it three in a row, but it’s going to be a tough battle.”
Bosh had just two points in the second half and went 4 of 17 from the field overall. Third quarters have been smelly affairs for the Heat (17-21) recently, and this one was no different, but the Heat mitigated an offensive meltdown by holding the Lakers to 19 points. The Heat was 7-of-18 shooting in the third for 17 points with Bosh going 0 of 1 from the field with one rebound in nearly nine minutes.
With Bosh struggling and Wade watching the second half from the bench, Mario Chalmers took over offensively and scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half. He had back-to-back driving layups in the final two minutes of the game that gave the Heat a six-point lead. Bosh never found a rhythm, but his clutch jumper with 1:44 left gave the Heat a four-point edge.
A three-pointer by Bryant with eight seconds left cut the Heat’s lead to three points after Chalmers’ layups, but Bryant missed an attempt from three-point range to tie the game with one second left. In his 19th season, Bryant rested consecutive games leading up to Tuesday’s matchup with Wade and the Heat.
Bryant and Wade embraced before the tipoff and exchanged pleasantries, but the competition on the court never materialized. The Heat jumped out to an 18-0 lead and Wade then left the game in the second quarter after feeling tightness in his left hamstring. Meanwhile, Bryant had a poor night shooting. He was 1 of 12 from the field with three minutes left in the game. Bryant finished with 12 points, going 3 of 19 from the field.
“I think the best thing we did was penetrate, and coach keeps talking about it, we penetrated and put pressure on their defense and made them make a decision,” said Wade, who will likely miss Wednesday’s game in Oakland. “You saw early in the game their decision was to leave our bigs and we lobbed it to them and they got dunks and then later in the game they wouldn’t leave them and Mario Chalmers got some layups down there. That’s what you get when you put pressure on them early. It opens it up later.”
Luol Deng defended Bryant for much of the night after limiting Clippers guard Chris Paul on Sunday. Deng could square off against Warriors guard Steph Curry on Wednesday, which would certainly qualify as one of the toughest defensive assignments over a four-day stretch that the league has to offer.
Deng was one of four Heat players to have at least eight rebounds. Heat reserve center Hassan Whiteside led the team with nine rebounds off the bench. He also had 15 points, including three dunks in the Heat’s dominant first-quarter run. Heat starting center Chris Andersen also played well, scoring 12 points to go along with eight rebounds. Andersen and Whiteside combined for eight blocks, with Whiteside swatting five.
“I think everyone is bringing something to the table,” Deng said. “It’s just a great team effort the last two games and we know we have a tough one [Wednesday] but now we’re starting to find out the way we want to play and who we want to be.”