LOS ANGELES (AP)—Kobe Bryant(notes) banked in a 3-pointer over Dwyane Wade’s(notes) defense at the buzzer, ending the superstars’ sensational duel and sending the Los Angeles Lakers to their eighth straight victory, 108-107 over the Miami Heat on Friday night.
Bryant scored 33 points, but his off-balance bank shot from straightaway over Wade’s outstretched hand likely will rank among the most incredible shots of his career.
Wade scored nine of his 26 points in the final 2 minutes, but missed a free throw with 3.2 seconds left to give Los Angeles one last chance to tie it with a two-point basket.
Bryant went for the win, and his improbable shot kept the Lakers atop the overall NBA standings while sending Miami to its eighth loss in 12 games.
The matchup between U.S. Olympic teammates was the center of an action-packed game featuring a shoving match between Jermaine O’Neal(notes) and Lamar Odom(notes), leading to Odom’s ejection with 5:07 to play.
Neither star was perfect, with Wade struggling to a 7-of-21 shooting performance and Bryant missing the basket entirely on a potential tying shot with 24 seconds to play. Both came up big in the final seconds, but Bryant was just a bit bigger in front of his raucous home crowd.
O’Neal had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Heat, who rebounded from an 18-point loss in Denver one night earlier with an impressive effort against the defending NBA champions.
After Wade put Miami ahead 102-100 with 49 seconds left on an awkward one-handed shot from the baseline, Miami appeared to sew up its first road win over the Lakers in five tries when Wade’s two free throws put the Heat up 106-102 with 9.3 seconds to play.
Pau Gasol(notes) scored 22 points and Andrew Bynum(notes) added 19 points and eight rebounds for the Lakers, who had won seven straight games by double digits while surging to the top of the standings. After several games against struggling opponents, they seemed headed to a narrow defeat in their toughest test in weeks — but Bryant wouldn’t allow it.
In the midst of an underwhelming start to the season, Miami showed considerable moxie in its third game in four days. Quentin Richardson(notes) hit a 3-pointer with 2:44 to play to put the Heat in front before Wade scored nine of their final 11 points.
Moments earlier, O’Neal and Odom exchanged shoves after Odom fouled O’Neal, who bumped into Odom while hanging on the rim after his dunk. When Odom reacted angrily, O’Neal gave him a one-handed shove in the chest, and Odom responded with a two-handed shove.
Both got technical fouls, but the T was Odom’s second, resulting in his ejection.
Bryant’s duel with Wade didn’t start out with much excitement: Wade scored one point in the first quarter and didn’t manage a field goal until throwing down two stellar dunks in the final 2:04 before halftime. Eluding Bryant’s defense by running off picks, he delivered a two-handed jam with 40 seconds left to trim Los Angeles’ lead to one point.
But Bryant wrapped up the first half with a stunner, drawing contact from two defenders before somehow banking home a jumper at the buzzer while sprawling onto his back. Bryant gave an icy stare to the referees who didn’t call a foul while Staples Center roared—but that was just a warmup for the fantastic finale.
The Lakers made just one turnover in the first half, but 1-for-10 3-point shooting allowed Miami to keep it close. Wade went cold again in the third, going without a field goal until back-to-back scores put the Heat ahead late in the period.
NOTES: Gasol fell to the court writhing in pain with 6:03 to play after Odom poked him in the left eye while both players tried to block a layup by Richardson. Gasol eventually got up and sat on the bench for more treatment, but returned moments later when Odom was ejected. … Lakers coach Phil Jackson said he discussed Ron Artest’s(notes) recent admission of drinking alcohol during games a decade ago—not to talk about Artest’s drinking, but about his decision to discuss it with the media.