Los Angeles Lakers vs. Miami Heat: Postgame Grades and Analysis

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistJanuary 24, 2014

MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 23:   LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat drives to the basket against the Los Angeles Lakers at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida on Jan. 23, 2014. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice: Copyright NBAE 2014 (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
Issac Baldizon/Getty Images

The Miami Heat (31-12) captured a second consecutive victory with a 109-102 win over the Los Angeles Lakers (16-27) on Thursday night.   

Chris Bosh led the Heat behind 31 points on 15-of-22 shooting while LeBron James chipped in a double-double consisting of 27 points and 13 rebounds in the winning effort. 

"You can either be proactive or wait for people to do things for you," Bosh said of his effort, according to Bleacher Report's Ethan Skolnick

Despite being outscored by 11 in the first half, the Lakers mounted a charge in the second half and outscored Miami by four points over the game's final 24 minutes. However, Bosh's red-hot shooting stroke proved to be too much for an overmatched Lakers defense that allowed the Heat to shoot 58 percent from the field and 40 percent from three. 

Pau Gasol and Jodie Meeks led the Lakers with 22 points apiece, but their production wasn't enough on a night when the Lakers shot 46 percent from the floor and allowed Miami to score 52 points in the paint. 

L.A. has now lost eight of its last 10 games dating back to Jan. 5. 

Key Players

LeBron James, Miami Heat, Small Forward

With a double-double less than three minutes into the third quarter, it was quite clear that LeBron James was going to do what he wanted, when he wanted against a defensively inept club like the Lakers, who entered Thursday night ranked No. 26 overall in defensive efficiency, per Basketball Reference

James' energy and near-flawless execution on the offensive end helped the Heat on a night when they fell into occasional lulls, and his complete line of 27 points (9-of-15 shooting), 13 rebounds and a team-high six assists demonstrates just how easily he picked apart a decimated Purple and Gold lineup. 

James' ability to beat every Lakers player in a dead sprint down the court and finish with an emphatic flush was reflective of his dominance. 

Grade: A

Chris Bosh, Miami Heat, Center

MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 23: Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat posts up Ryan Kelly #4 of the Los Angeles Lakers during a game  at American Airlines Arena on January 23, 2014 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloa
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Matched up against a defensively challenged frontcourt, the Heat made a point to get Chris Bosh the ball in opportune spots from the start, and boy was that a good call. 

Opening with nine points on 4-of-6 shooting, Bosh set the tone early on as he took advantage of a Lakers defense that allowed 57 first-half points, including a massive 38 in the paint. 

After racking up a team-high 13 points over the game's first 24 minutes, Bosh finished with a game-high 31 points on 15-of-22 shooting and six boards in the win as he found points easy to come by via the mid-range jumper. He also drained his final eight shots from the field. 

Grade: A+

Mario Chalmers, Miami Heat, Point Guard

With James and Bosh both clicking, it was a bonus for the Heat to have Mario Chalmers locked in. 

Miami's starting point guard was the third Heat player into double figures, knocked down his first five shots and played solid defense on Kendall Marshall throughout. 

Chalmers only totaled 11 points, three rebounds and three assists while shooting 5-of-6 from the field, but he finished as a plus-18, the highest of any Heat starter. 

Grade: B+

Ray Allen, Miami Heat, Shooting Guard

Due to his ongoing maintenance plan, Dwyane Wade missed his fourth straight game and 13th this season, which meant that Ray Allen saw another start alongside Chalmers in the backcourt. 

And while Allen looked sharp in the first quarter, knocking down three of four shots and scoring seven points, he quickly cooled down, finishing with 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting, including 2-of-5 from three, and four rebounds. 

Once Wade returns and Allen can settle back into his old role, the three-point marksman figures to look more comfortable. 

Grade: C-

Shane Battier, Miami Heat, Power Forward

Aside from his five assists (including a team-high four in the first half), this was a rather mundane performance from Shane Battier. 

After going scoreless in the first half (0-of-3 from the free-throw line in his first 10 minutes), Battier finished with three points in 19 minutes on a night when Miami's rotation went 11 men deep. 

Grade: D

Norris Cole, Miami Heat, Sixth Man

The highest-scoring member of Miami's bench, Norris Cole tallied 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting and five assists in a steady effort. 

Considering Cole entered the night averaging 7.6 points, his 12th double-figure outing of the year, he rightfully earned above-average marks. 

Grade: B

Bench, Miami Heat

If Miami's bench continues to perform the way it did on Thursday, Erik Spoelstra's going to be a happy camper. 

And while seven points, seven rebounds and four assists from Michael Beasley and an energetic four points and four rebounds from Chris Andersen deserve praise, I can't help but marvel at the play of Greg Oden, which continues to be the Association's most pleasant surprise this season. 

In a season-high 10 minutes, Oden scored five points (2-of-5 shooting), pulled down five rebounds and even flashed a sweet lefty hook that has fans wondering just how big of an impact the former No. 1 overall pick may be able to make come playoff time. 

"What I've been through, I've got nothing but patience now," Oden said after the game, according to Skolnick

Grade: B+

Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers, Center

MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 23: Chris Andersen #11 of the Miami Heat boxes out Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers during a game  at American Airlines Arena on January 23, 2014 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by d
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The only Laker to reach double figures during a first half in which L.A. shot 39 percent from the field, Pau Gasol found success working against an undersized Miami front line. 

Although not much else was working for the Lakers on the offensive end through three quarters, Gasol was able to churn out his sixth straight game with at least 20 points and has now broken through the 20-point threshold in nine of his last 11 games. 

His interior defense was generally weak, but Gasol looked sharp on the offensive end, totaling 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting while racking up 11 rebounds, four assists and three steals in the loss. 

Grade: A-

Nick Young, Los Angeles Lakers, Sixth Man

Swaggy P's stroke was noticeably off in the first half, and forced jumpers in traffic only compounded the problem. 

That said, the Sixth Man of the Year hopeful managed to score 19 points on 8-of-20 shooting, and it's worth noting he deserves some credit for fueling a 9-2 Lakers run toward the end of the third quarter which closed the gap and kept L.A. competitive in the fourth. 

Remember, Young had three points at halftime and converted on just one of his first six shots. And interestingly enough, the Lakers were plus-six with Young on the floor, making him the only Los Angeles player to finish with a positive plus/minus.   

Young also gets extra credit for debuting Kobe Bryant's signature shoe before the Black Mamba himself ever donned them for game action. 

Grade: B+

Jodie Meeks, Los Angeles Lakers, Shooting Guard

MIAMI, FL- JANUARY 23:  Jodie Meeks #20 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives to the basket against the Miami Heat at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida on January 23, 2014.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

Prior to Young's second-half explosion, Jodie Meeks was the Lakers' only source of offensive consistency in the backcourt.

More importantly, though, was the fact that Meeks was shooting effectively from beyond the arc and led the Lakers with four threes (on six attempts) on a night when the team only knocked down nine total.

When you consider that Meeks entered Thursday's showdown shooting 44 percent from the field in January, his 22 points on 54 percent shooting were awfully impressive. 

Grade: A-

Kendall Marshall, Los Angeles Lakers, Point Guard

As has often been the case during Kendall Marshall's stint with the Lakers, his showing on Thursday was a mixed bag. 

First, the good: Marshall led all players with 11 assists and helped salvage a broken possession in the game's waning moments when he hit a clutch layup that drew his team within five. He went on to finish with six points. 

However, Marshall also showed that he still has a long, long way to go in terms of development on the defensive end, as he helped off of Ray Allen with under four minutes left and ultimately surrendered a three. 

Grade: B-

Wesley Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers, Small Forward

Per usual, there was nothing pretty about Wesley Johnson's performance. 

Not only was he presented with the daunting task of guarding LeBron James, but Johnson didn't provide anything special in the jump-shooting department, compiling seven points on 3-of-6 shooting. 

Johnson also finished a minus-11, the worst mark of any Lakers player.

Grade: D

Ryan Kelly, Los Angeles Lakers, Power Forward

Ryan Kelly entered Thursday night having scored a combined 50 points over his previous three games, but he was unable to find similar offensive success against a stingy Miami defense. 

Like Johnson, Kelly put up just seven points on three made field goals, although the latter did so on a meager 30 percent shooting, including 25 percent shooting from three. 

Grade: D-

Bench, Los Angeles Lakers

The big contributors were Jordan Hill and Manny Harris, who scored eight and seven points, respectively. Hill also pulled down seven boards and blocked a shot, but with the Lakers ravaged by injuries, Mike D'Antoni's rotation only went nine deep in the loss. 

Robert Sacre was good for four points, as well. 

Grade: C-

What's Next?

The Heat will have two days off before hosting the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday afternoon, while the Lakers will cap off the second night of a back-to-back on Friday against the Orlando Magic. 


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