NBA West Roundup: Lakers Come Up Short Against Heat and 2013 All-Stars

On Thursday night, the Los Angeles Lakers (17-22) gave it their all in the fourth quarter but fell short against the Miami Heat (26-12), 99-90. LeBron James showed up big in front of the Los Angeles crowd with his 39 points along with Dwayne Wade’s 27 points.

Western Conference leader Oklahoma City Thunder (31-8) had the night off after their 117-97 Wednesday win over the Denver Nuggets but return to the court on Friday against the Dallas Mavericks. Looks like another win will come their way (-4.5, 205 o/u).

Also on Thursday, the list of 2013 All-Stars had been released with four players from Los Angeles. For Kobe Bryant, he had a slight advantage over James as the top vote-getter.

Lakers vs. Heat

Lakers Kobe Bryant

For the Lakers, playing against the Heat brought their play up to a higher level on Thursday but they fell short. They have now lost their last seven of their last nine games.

At 2:32, it was 90-90 and the Lakers looked like the team that everyone had hoped for in 2013. But the Heat got hot when they needed to, including five of nine points by James, to seal the win.

The Heat is +200 to win this year’s Championship.

Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said of the loss via ESPN, “I thought we played well enough to beat them. 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’ve got to get smoother.”

For the first three quarters, Miami held a small lead but Bryant knocked out two 3-pointers and two jumpers in the fourth quarter to help the Lakers take a 84-81 lead but the Heat roared back.

Bryant led team in scoring with 22 points (13 in the fourth quarter). For the 23rd straight game, he scored a minimum of 20 points but he got off to a rough start, missing 14 of 17 in his first shots.

Metta World Peace added 16 points and Dwight Howard contributed 13 points.

Pau Gasol returned to the court on Thursday after missing five games due to a concussion on Jan. 5 in the Denver Nuggets game. He came off the bench five minutes into it after not practicing for a week and a half but soon got his basketball legs back and scored 12 points with four rebounds for the night.

As for his return to the starting lineup, Gasol and D’Antoni have already discussed it and it will likely happen in the team’s next game, which is Sunday against the Toronto Raptors.

NBA All Stars

Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant

For this year’s All-Star team there weren’t too many surprises coming from the West. In addition to gaining the top vote, Bryant has now been has been voted to a league-record 15th straight All-Star games.

With his record, Bryant broke a tie with Shaquille O’Neal, Jerry West and Karl Malone for the greatest number of consecutive starts.

He is also currently the league’s leading scorer and a four-time All-Star MVP. In 2012, he became the leader for career scoring in this game.

This year, Bryant is joined by his teammate Dwight Howard and fellow players from Los Angeles, Clippers Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. It is the second consecutive year that four players from Los Angeles teams made the honor. In 2012, it was Bryant, Paul, Griffin and former Laker, Andrew Bynum who is now with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant rounds out the West.

As for this year’s reserves, they will be announced next Thursday. They are selected by votes from the NBA’s coaches who vote for seven players in their conferences consisting of two guards, three frontcourt players and two players independent of position; their votes can’t go toward a player on their own team.

 The All-Star game will be played on Feb. 17 in Houston.

 

 

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