The Lakers were outmatched by 2 men on the national stage courtesy of ESPN on ABC this Sunday. The combination of vintage Dwayne Wade and the best player on the planet by an increasingly wide margin were too much. Both Eastern All Star starters scored over 30. Wade appeared rejuvenated since his offseason knee surgery. He scored nearly 20 of his 30 points in the 4th quarter. And Lebron? He is the best period.
It’s easy to point at the best team in the NBA and say they are the model. They are the team to emulate. The Lakers are generally the model franchise, but this is a whole new Lakers team. If the Lakers can replicate what the Heat do well in the second half of the season, they will not only make the playoffs, but upset some teams while they are there.
But what make this Heat team so dangerous is that the supporting cast contributes. If they all needed their “touches” then the best player on the planet and D-Wade would be under-utilized. But the team defends aggressively, moves the ball well, and shoots well from the perimeter.
Lebron facilitates so well, but he scores when he has the chance. That’s what Kobe demonstrated he can do at points this season, and when the Lakers were at their best during their last two title runs. Kobe makes the rest of the Lakers better when he plays this way. The Heat are most dangerous not when Lebron and Wade are playing well. They’re often playing well, but not always. But when they are on, and making Joel Anthony and Mario Chalmers better, the Heat can’t be beat.
Earl Clark has been a rock since he not only got inserted the rotation, he misses the rotation part of the rotation since he is always on the floor. He scored 18 points in nearly 42 minutes, with 9 boards, and guarded each Lebron and Ray Allen over the course of the game. But Meeks, Jamison, Metta, and Howard need to be, as they’ve occasionally shown, assets and not space fillers on the floor.
Because Wade and Lebron are so dangerous off the bounce, the Heat operated their offense well inside the 3 point line Sunday. The Lakers on the other hand started their offense well outside the 3-point line. It took way too long to get in a dangerous part of the floor, enough time that the active Heat team could recover.
Kobe and Nash can’t break down defenses quite like they used to off the bounce. But they need to make enough space so that when the role players get a chance, they are the Lakers best threat.
The Lakers best asset is their size, and but without Pau and an ailing Dwight the Lakers could not get a hold of any defensive rebounds Sunday. The ball was like a bouncy ball on a sheet of ice in a sand storm, and the Heat were the only ones with the tractor beams to retrieve the ball. It appeared to be a lot more than the 10 offensive rebounds recorded, but the rebounds combined with the Lakers 14 turnovers were not a formula easily overcome. The game officially broke up over a series of offensive rebounds at the end of the 3rd quarter, which culminated in a 3 for Lebron, and the 3rd win for the Heat over an LA team this season.