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Lakers make it interesting late before eventually falling to Heat

Jan 23, 2014, 11:03 PM EDT

lebron nick young Getty Images

The Lakers don’t have much in the way of talent these days, and looking at a starting lineup that includes Ryan Kelly, Kendall Marshall and Wesley Johnson may feel like a strong sign that the basketball equivalent of the apocalypse has descended on Los Angeles.

But what the team does have is an above average level of fight and grit under Mike D’Antoni this season that would appear to be tough to muster under the circumstances.

That spirit showed itself again on Thursday, when a Lakers team that seemed to be simply going through the motions for much of the proceedings found a way to turn things around enough to cut a 16-point second half deficit to just four, before ultimately falling to the defending champs by a final of 109-102.

D’Antoni changed up his normal substitution pattern by letting Pau Gasol open the fourth quarter while LeBron James and Chris Bosh were on the bench getting their customary rest to start the period, and Gasol responded by grabbing a couple of steals and getting past Greg Oden for an and-1 finish that cut the Miami lead to just seven. Nick Young followed that up with a layup, and it was a five-point game with under 10 minutes remaining.

The Heat brought James and Bosh back in, and immediately stabilized. But some tough shots made by Young and Jodie Meeks had the Lakers back within four with under three minutes remaining, before a three from James demoralized L.A. and all but sealed the victory.

D’Antoni said afterward that his team’s problem isn’t scoring but defense, and the fact that the Heat shot 10-of-14 from the field (71.4 percent) in the final period when the game was actually tight leads us to believe this was an accurate assessment.

Dwyane Wade missed this one due to soreness in his knees, the fourth straight contest he’s been held out by the team simply to rest. Chris Bosh picked up the slack and led all scorers with 31 points on 15-of-22 shooting, and LeBron added 27 points on 15 shots, to go along with 13 rebounds and six assists.

  1. antistratfordian - Jan 23, 2014 at 11:39 PM

    Hey, the Lakers have the same issue with Nick Young that they do with Kobe – should’ve been going to Gasol down low… nope! chuckin’ time!

    Gasol needed more than 15 shot attempts to Young’s 20.

    • asimonetti88 - Jan 24, 2014 at 12:09 AM

      yes, that’s the problem, and not that the team is basically completely devoid of talent at this point

      • money2long - Jan 24, 2014 at 1:00 AM

        have we not learned that anti will try to point to everything wrong in the world to kobe

      • antistratfordian - Jan 24, 2014 at 2:52 PM

        Well they have some talent – his name was Pau who was nailing everything he was throwing at the rim.

        I don’t know if I should be blaming Young or D’Antoni in this specific case, though…

  2. elwaysagenius - Jan 24, 2014 at 12:12 AM

    I like when Chris Bosh gets to show that he’s still an All-Star level player. People seemingly forget just how good he can be. He gives up a lot of personal success for the team to succeed

  3. lakerade - Jan 24, 2014 at 12:42 AM

    Love the effort from the Lakers, they played Miami tough twice this year given the circumstances. A win tonight would have been nice, obviously, but there’s no quit in this squad. Make ’em work for it!

  4. fanofthegame79 - Jan 24, 2014 at 7:13 AM

    I’ve been saying this since year 1 of this Heat team: they should have traded Wade for someone. At the time, I was saying a Wade for Howard deal would have been fantastic, but that didn’t happen. I said that it might be hard to have LeBron and Wade play with each other since they had such an overlap of skill sets. But they got by and we know how that turned out. And each year this team has been together, I’ve called for a trade of Wade (on this very site, mind you)… Now here we are in year 4 of this team and Wade pretty much only plays every 3rd game or so, and most people say it’s going to be like this for the rest of his career (due to his decision to remove his meniscus rather than repair it back in 2003ish) – I simply don’t see him being a huge factor for extended periods of time. I may be eating my words at the end of this season when they win their 3rd Championship in a row, but just saying that maybe they should have explored some options before it got to this point.

    • miamatt - Jan 24, 2014 at 12:50 PM

      While I applaud you for standing by what you believe, I couldn’t disagree more. Three straight Finals appearances and two straight titles isn’t something that can just be shrugged off. Any potential trade and success thereafter is neither here nor there. Obviously we can all play fantasy basketball and trade Wade for Howard. But what you ignore and underestimate is the human element. Wade is the guy who had to check his ego and allow James to join and eventually become the national face of HIS team. People on the outside can discount the family environment of the Heat all they want. but it is echoed by every player who joins up with them. To trade Wade would have been such a public betrayal not only of Wade, but of James and Bosh, who came to Miami to play with him. it would have poisoned James relationship with management and sabotaged anything that would have come after. It would have meant every word that came out of Riley’s mouth leading up to the “decision” was a lie. This isn’t Joel Anthony you’re talking about, it’s Dwayne Freakin’ Wade!!!

      And he’s not playing “every 3rd game or so”, more like playing 3 out of 4, including the current stretch where he has sat out. We’ll see what happens with Wade, but even assuming the worst- that he is finished, right here and now… I wouldn’t gamble the past few years on any potential fantasy trade.

  5. aboogy123456 - Jan 24, 2014 at 8:32 AM

    I’m loving this laker team and I think this season has been a success so far. Yes, lakers are losing, but they are playing good team basketball and D’Antoni’s offense looks good. Last year I thought a huge problem with D’Antoni was that he didn’t give his role players enough minutes to develop and he relied on kobe too much. This year they are forced to develop the young guys and I’m liking what I’m seeing.

    With guys like marshall, young, and ryan kelly playing well and getting experience, the lakers have found some solid role players for next season. Plus, they are losing so much that they have a chance at a top 6 pick, and at worst that would be marcus smart, who can contribute right away. They have cap space to go after carmelo and we still don’t know what they will do with pau, but they can either re-sign him for cheap, trade him, or save the cap space. It’s really a good time to be a lakers fan.

  6. billtetley53 - Jan 24, 2014 at 10:11 AM

    Aboogy: Way to find the silver lining.

    1.) Carmelo isn’t coming to L.A. Even if he did. what improves? You’d have TWO guys heaving up shots and not playing defense instead of one.
    2.) Pau isn’t bringing back anything of value in a trade. He’s old and a rental at this point, you aren’t getting back pucks or players of value.
    3.) You aren’t getting a too 6 pick. Not if Kobe comes back this season. He cannot play to lose. He will help them win enough games to push them down to pick 10if he plays.
    4.) Its not a good time to be a lakers fan.
    Dr.BUSS is dead. His son is not his father and the way the cba is set up, you cannot build a team like years past. Unless a player wants to leave millions on the table, player movement is restricted. Yeah Dwight did it, who could blame him, I’d want to get set from Kobe and the unrealistic fanbase too. Face it, the lakers are going to be in a dark period for quite some time.

    • aboogy123456 - Jan 24, 2014 at 10:26 AM

      Did you really say what improves with carmelo anthony? you say he heaves up shots like he’s a ballhog, but in reality both him and kobe are very versatile players on offense. They would work well in this offense because they both don’t need to have the ball in their hand to be effective. Regardless, carmelo anthony going to ANY team makes them a lot better. And if you think Kobe will be good enoough to make them win all these games and fall back in the draft, maybe you like kobe more than you think.

      Pau doesn’t need to bring back anything in trade value. If he’s not worth that much, then it should be easy for the lakers to re-sign him right? If you don’t think that the lakers can re-sign him, then who do you suggest he go to?

      I’m not saying that the lakers will definitely bounce back quick, but I do think they have put themselves in a good position. a year ago everyone said they were too old, and now they are one of the youngest teams in the league. Nobody knows what will happen but they have flexibility, youth, and a great market, so I’m just excited to see how things turn out.

      • asimonetti88 - Jan 24, 2014 at 11:35 AM

        It’s gonna be in the mid-70s today here. Enjoy your negative 50 degree weather hater!

      • asimonetti88 - Jan 24, 2014 at 11:35 AM

        I didn’t mean to reply to you with that!

      • aboogy123456 - Jan 24, 2014 at 11:43 AM

        it’s cool, go lakers!

    • asimonetti88 - Jan 24, 2014 at 11:32 AM

      “4.) Its not a good time to be a lakers fan.”

      Psh. When is it NOT a good time to be a Lakers fan? We get to live in beautiful Southern California, we get to watch a team that is always fun even when it’s bad, and we get to wear the best colors in the NBA! Go Forum Blue and Gold!

      • asimonetti88 - Jan 24, 2014 at 11:34 AM

        We also have access to the best avocados in America.

  7. billtetley53 - Jan 24, 2014 at 12:03 PM

    lmao. Weather? Colors? Avacado?

    Nice comeback. Yuckaroo.

    Carmelo sure has his Knicks playing well.
    There wouldn’t be enough basketballs to go around if he came to the lakers.

    Pau is broken down. He doesn’t fit into the lakers system.

    I can’t wait for the unrealistic trade scenarios to start popping up.
    You know, the ones that get you Irving and Love for pennies on the dollar?

    I’ve never said Kobe wasn’t a good player, he’s top 15 all time. He is good enough to get you wins you don’t need, I hope he lifts the te right out of the lottery.

    Those young players are scrubs and d league talent.
    Face it, the cupboards bare. One 1st round pick the next 3 years. Yup, gobs of $ to offer free agents, but you can’t compete with bird right money.

    Please quit being delusional. Outside of weather and nightlife, what is there really to offer? Kobe is done after next year.

    L.A. is in the dark ages. learn it, love it, live it.

    • aboogy123456 - Jan 24, 2014 at 12:10 PM

      how do you call anyone delusional when you are the one saying that carmelo can’t help a team, pau is broken down, kobe is done after next year (when he has two years left), and that without Jerry Buss the lakers have no future. When you are wrong, can we trust you to admit it on this site?

  8. billtetley53 - Jan 24, 2014 at 1:09 PM

    What has Carmelo don for any team he’s been on in the pros? Absolutely nothing.

    Pau is broken down, he’s a shell of himself. How can you say different?

    Kobe does have 2 years, injuries are taking their toll though.

    Jim Buss is not his Dad. Jim Buss is also dealing with a different financial landscape that you lakers fans just can’t seem to grasp.
    I called this train wreck last season and this season has gone beyond my wildest dreams. My only hope is that Kobe can somehow get you the 8th seed so they can get swept out AGAIN.

    Melo would mot help L.A. You’d have 2 guys that want 25,shots a game, Kobe WILL NOT defer to anyone. Neither will Melo.
    On 2nd thought, I hope he comes to L.A.
    It’d make 2012-2013 look like a good season for the lakers.

    I’m never wrong, don’t hold your breath.

    • aboogy123456 - Jan 24, 2014 at 1:22 PM

      I think you’re misunderstanding that kobe and Melo shoot alot because that’s the best way to help their teams. I don’t think either of them has a problem sharing shots, they both just want to win and they have the skill set to work well together.

  9. billtetley53 - Jan 24, 2014 at 2:16 PM

    Its sad that you don’t get it. Kobe has played with all star after all star and he still heaved up a majority of the shots.
    Kobe does want to win, but his ego dictates that it has to be because of him.
    Whether him going 9-25 is good for the team or not.
    When they brought in Howard, his main concern was that Dwight knew it was Kobes team…..pitiful.

    Ad stated before, Carmelo has gone nothing in either Denver or New York…nothing but jacking up shots.

    Neither of them play any semblance of defense either.

    Its a moot point anyway, he’s not leaving NY, he’s not leaving an extra 30 million on the table in what is sure to be his last big contract.
    You guys need to get it through your heads that it isn’t 1995 anymore. The Lakers just can’t offer the most money to free agents to get them to L.A.

    This team had no worthwhile tradeable assets, they have one 1st round pick for the next three years.
    The big name free agents are not taking big pay cuts to come to L.A.
    This team will be stuck paying for 2nd tier players just like Dallas.

    You need to quit be willfully ignorant about the new cba and how restrictive it is.
    Resign Pau(if he even wants to) hope you get a good player in this draft and shoot for the 8 seed til kobe retires, them build through the draft.

    You’re looking at another 5 Years(at least) of mediocre basketball.

    • dinofrank60 - Jan 24, 2014 at 5:41 PM

      Why the blast towards Lakers fans? Are they supposed to hate Kobe and love mediocrity?

      • Professor Fate - Jan 24, 2014 at 6:16 PM

        Paul Hargis’ brother/alter ego. Both 53 going on 13.

      • dinofrank60 - Jan 24, 2014 at 8:23 PM

        Any time I get a response from Fate the Magnificent, it is an honor!!! Thank you, sir!!!

    • dvsmik3 - Jan 24, 2014 at 11:27 PM

      how can you call kobe a chucker at this point in his career? Did you live under a rock during the 2nd half of the ’12-’13 season? Kobe transformed his game from shooting guard to point guard and had his best year in terms of assists. Kobe plays to win and he will without a doubt adjust his game so that the lakers can keep their heads above water.

      Unfortunately, I would love it if we finished poorly and got a higher draft pick.

  10. Fantasy Football Consultant - Jan 24, 2014 at 7:50 PM

    Amazing bbb Billy’s expertise. He probably changes tires or sells DVDs on the street. Fact is you can get a first for Pau or a good role player which is all that’s needed. We will sign one or two top players and draft at least one this year. Put that with Kobe and a few good role players and were back in the mix. Period. 5 years? Lol. Ok hater. Thanks for the worst case scenario.

  11. billtetley53 - Jan 24, 2014 at 9:41 PM

    Pathetic. What does my job have to do with basketball? By the way, Im a Biomed, specializing in Imaging. What do you do?

    Its fitting that fantasy is part of yhour moniker, because that’s what most of your post is.

    You aren’t getting a 1st round pick for Pau. You aren’t getting a role player either. The salaries have to match and the lakers aren’t going to take on salary to make a trade work.

    You also aren’t getting “two top free agents. LeBron, Wade, Bosh or Carmelo aren’t going anywhere.
    You’ll see the likes of Lance Stephenson and Gordon Hayward, and that’s about it.
    Decent players, but not superstars.

    You are another Turd that refuses to face reality. You will see this offseason.

    None of the top guys want to play 2nd fiddle to Kobe. They can’t throw the most money at LeBron etc., like they did with Shaq, and no one is going to gift them a player like in years past.
    This team is going to hover around .500 or below fir the forseeable future. After this year, they won’t have a #1 until 2017.

    They have no worthwhile tradeable parts.

    How is this not sinking in?

    Oh, that’s right, you’re a delysional lakers fan…..carry on.

  12. ranfan12 - Jan 26, 2014 at 12:16 AM

    Pau hardly ever gets credit even when he performs extremely well especially during losses, but people talk all kinds of $#%@ when they lose and his scoring sucks.

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