Yet again, LeBron James absolutely dominated, shooting an impressive 12-of-18 from the field. He was able to get off any shot he wanted and barreled his way through the paint for easy dunks and kick-outs.
Dwyane Wade dropped 30 points on an identical 12-of-18 from the field as well. The duo consistently attacked in transition and helped the Heat rack up 19 fast-break points en route to the win.
Excelling in his new role as the Lakers’ primary distributor, Kobe scored 28 points in addition to his nine assists.
The problem was not the Lakers offense, but their defense, again. They allowed Miami to shoot 55 percent from the field and were out-rebounded by nine.
Mario Chalmers, PG MIA: B
The X-factor for the Miami Heat was Mario Chalmers’ play. He was able to create open shots for his teammates and consistently knocked down jumper after jumper. Finishing with 13 points, four rebounds and three assists, Mario helped take some of the pressure off LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
On the defensive side of the ball, Chalmers was one of the main reasons Miami was able to slow down and contain Steve Nash, despite multiple Nash-Bryant pick-and-rolls.
Steve Nash, PG LAL: C+
Steve Nash helped carry the Lakers early, scoring eight first quarter points. Outside of the first quarter, Nash’s impact was limited and mainly consisted of him setting ball-screens for Kobe Bryant in order to force a switch, allowing Kobe to back Miami’s point guards into the post.
Surprisingly, Nash only finished with two assists and did most of his damage at the free-throw line, where he shot a perfect 8-of-8.
Kobe Bryant, SG LAL: A+
Again, taking on his new role as the distributor, Kobe was able to set up his teammates for open looks and closed the first half with five assists.
The second half was more of the same. Kobe was efficient with the ball in his hands and really put the Heat defense in a bind. Whether it was a pick-and-roll, pin-down or post up, Kobe had his way with anyone that was guarding him.
Additionally, Kobe shot an impressive 11-of-19 from the field, but his contributions on offense were not enough to offset the team’s poor defense.
Dwyane Wade, SG MIA: A
Dwyane came out attacking the Lakers defense and penetrated consistently. None of the opposing guards were able to slow him down the entire game, as his quickness and athletic ability allowed him to blow by the slow-footed Lakers guards.
Wade ended up shooting 66 percent from the field, helping the Heat pull away from the Lakers down the stretch.
Overall, Los Angeles had no answer for him, especially considering how poor their transition defense is and how well Wade plays in the open floor.
LeBron James, SF MIA: A+
It took seven minutes for LeBron to score his first basket, but once that jumper fell, it was another spectacular game for King James.
The Lakers literally had no answer for LeBron, as he drove, dished and got to the free-throw line at will. James finished with 32 points, seven rebounds and four assists, as the Lakers had no answer for him the entire game.
It is quite amazing how well LeBron has been playing lately. Defenses are unable to faze him no matter what tactics they employ in order to slow him down.
Metta World Peace, SF LAL: D
Shooting a lackluster 3-of-11 from the field, Metta World Peace did not have his best game of the season on offense. Defensively, the results were similar. Having to check LeBron James seemed to limit his productiveness on offense.
Furthermore, Metta’s defense was no match for LeBron James’ impressive outing. While he was physical and able to cut off passing lanes, World Peace failed to bring much else to the table.
Earl Clark, PF LAL: B+
Perhaps no other player on the Lakers is playing as well as Earl Clark right now, and that was the case again Sunday. Just watching him over the last few weeks, it is clear that his confidence grows each game.
Clark was able to attack off the dribble and knock down open jumpers. He was also solid on the glass, pulling down nine rebounds, and his length on defense is a huge asset for a struggling Lakers defense. His play lately has been encouraging and is helping fill a huge void with Pau Gasol hurt.
Udonis Haslem, PF MIA: D
Udonis Haslem was never able to find his flow in this game and was unable to make much of an impact on either end of the floor. He was in foul trouble most of the game and had little success on the glass.
Throughout most of the game, Haslem’s minutes were divvied up between Shane Battier and Chris Anderson. While he is a good rebounder and can knock down 15-foot jumpers with ease, Udonis was a non-factor all game.
Chris Bosh, C MIA: B+
While he faced a difficult matchup, having to guard Dwight Howard, Bosh played well overall. Still recovering from the flu, Bosh looked like his energy was expended quickly, especially with Dwight posting him up continuously.
Bosh did a great job on the glass, finishing with a game-high 11 rebounds. He was one of the reasons why the Heat out-rebounded the Lakers 38-29.
Dwight Howard, C LAL: B
Regardless of how healthy the former Defensive Player of the Year is, the Lakers are going to have problems winning games without Dwight protecting the rim and setting the defense. Against a team like Miami, who can seemingly get to the rim at will, Dwight’s defense is extremely important, but was average at best Sunday.
Offensively, Dwight looks very comfortable in the post and had an attacking mentality all game. Miami’s small frontcourt was unable to match up with him one-on-one, and Howard took advantage. Unfortunately, Dwight did not see the ball much in the second half, as the Lakers’ biggest advantage was squandered.
Shane Battier, SF MIA: B-
Another typical performance from Shane Battier, as the versatile forward was all over the floor on defense, diving on loose balls and knocking down open threes. His ability to play as a stretch 4 and defend multiple positions has been vital for the Miami defense.
Battier scored all nine of his points from long distance, and his energy was infectious in the second half. While he might not contribute much else in the box score, his play is a big reason why Miami’s defense is able to play small and still defend well.
Antawn Jamison, PF LAL: D
Much like the rest of the season, Antawn Jamison was a no-show for the Lakers. Considering how well Kobe Bryant and Earl Clark were playing, there were not many opportunities for Jamison to make an impact on offense.
Typically, he thrives on kick-outs and spot-ups, but he just did not see the ball much. When he did have the ball, he was mainly looking to keep the offense flowing and quickly reversed the ball back to Steve Nash or Kobe.
The only bright spot for Miami’s bench was Norris Cole’s play. Cole finished with seven points, two rebounds and two assists.
The rest of the bunch was mostly disappointing. Ray Allen, like Bosh, looked tired and not fully recovered from the flu. Allen did not look for his shot much, and it was obvious that his legs were not there for him to provide his stellar shooting.
Chris Anderson was active on defense and played with energy, but constantly fouled whoever he was guarding.
Los Angeles: D
The Los Angeles Lakers bench has been a problem all year, and that did not change against Miami.
Playing with an eight-man rotation, not much is expected from the three main bench contributors.
Jodie Meeks and Steve Blake were able to knock down a few timely threes, but brought nothing else to the table.