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List of Articles by Nicholai R. Roska

Lakers unmask Heat's lack of size

By Nicholai R. Roska
05 Mar 2012

LOS ANGELES -- A week after sustaining a broken nose at the All-Star Game in Orlando, Kobe Bryant continues to wear a protective facial gear as he and the Lakers toil through the second half of this lockout-shortened NBA season.

And as it turned out Sunday afternoon here at the Staples Center here in downtown L.A., neither mask nor the Miami Heat could stop the Black Mamba.

Bryant insisted he had no ax to grind against the Heat, whose star Dwyane Wade broke his nose on an uncharacteristic hard foul last Sunday. But Kobe played with some extra sauce in this one, scoring 33 points to lead the Lakers past Miami, 93-83.

Kobe made 14 of 23 shots and went 8 of 10 for 16 points in the opening quarter, allowing the Lakers to control the game early and often. In his third 30-plus points performance in three games, Kobe also had 7 rebounds and swished 5-of-7 free throws.

Chris Bosh, a vital piece of Miami's Big 3, attended his grandmother's funeral and didn't suit up for the game. And without the 6-foot-11 power forward, the Heat struggled miserably to contain the Lakers' bigs -- 7-footers Andrew Bynum and Paul Gasol.

Bynum and Gasol combined for 27 points and 23 rebounds as they imposed their collective might in the paint. In sharp contrast, Miami's big men, Joel Anthony and Udonis Haslem, only pooled seven points and 6 rebounds between them.

There was no shortage of firepower from the Lakers, who drilled 35 of 71 field goals and got 17 points from the forward formerly known as Ron Artest --- Metta World Peace. LA had only 19 assists to Miami's 22, but the Lakers won the rebounding battle, 44-35.

LeBron James filled the stats sheets with another MVP-like effort -- 25 points, 13 rebounds and 7 assists. But Miami, as a team, were an awful 33 of 88 from the field (37.5 percent). The Heat sank just 7 of 24 three-point shots and they bungled 5 of 15 free throws.

Wade fouled out in the final 5:14 of play with the Lakers nursing a 79-72 bulge. Wade turned in a more than decent output of 16 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists.

On the crest of a three-game winning streak, the LA Lakers now lead the Pacific Division with a 23-14 slate. a mere half-a-game lead over the retooled and suddenly very good LA Clippers (21-13).

After stringing together nine straight wins, the Heat lost its second in a row and fell to 28-9 in the tough Eastern Conference led by the streaking 30-8 Chicago Bulls.(NVR)

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