It was supposed to be the match-up of the season; Miami’s Big 3 of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh vs. L.A.’s Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom in a Christmas Clash of basketball titans. What it morphed into was nothing less than a good, old fashioned ambush and beat down by the younger, quicker, stronger Heat over the lackadaisical, uninspired two time defending NBA champion Lakers.
The final score, 96-80, didn't come close to telling the whole story. Miami came to Los Angeles and, before a sold out Staples Center filled with glitz and glamour and court side seats going on eBay for $20,000, took it to the Lakers in virtually every phase of the game. James, Wade, Bosh and Company set out to prove they were the real deal and not just a conglomerate of mercenaries from South Beach.
Miami bested the Lakers in shooting percentage, rebounds, blocked shots and all around hustle and passion. It’s only December and the second season (playoffs) is still four months away. But as of today, it is crystal clear which Big 3 is the dominant force. The Heat won this game with a smothering, tenacious defense and an unselfish persistence on offense that looked more like a Phil Jackson directed triangle than the perceived ball-hogging, ‘shoot first, pass later’ demeanor many critics expect of the Miami triumvirate.
Let’s take a closer look and see why the Heat trio was superior to Kobe and crew, and what the Lakers must do in order to right a listing ship that has left them limping towards the end of 2010 tied for the fourth best record in the West.