Heat 99, Lakers 90

Jon Gold, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

LOS ANGELES -- LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined for 66 points, and the Miami Heat put the clamps on Kobe Bryant for three quarters to take the 99-90 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night at Staples Center.
In a game featuring four All-Star starters, it was Miami's terrific twosome who far outshined Los Angeles' stars.
James had a season-high 39 points on 17-of-25 shooting. He added seven rebounds and eight assists. Wade, on his 31st birthday, added 27 points on 11-of-20 shooting. He contributed five assists and four rebounds.
Miami stole the momentum in the last two minutes behind James and Wade, who scored seven points as the Heat went on a 9-0 spurt to end the game.
The Lakers trailed 73-65 heading into the fourth quarter, but Bryant came alive late to make it a game. Bryant had 13 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, connecting on five of nine shots. In the first three quarters, Bryant, who was named the leading All-Star vote-getter -- narrowly beating James -- had nine points on 3-of-16 shooting while committing six turnovers.
The Lakers coughed up the ball 20 times on the evening, including 16 turnovers in the first half as Miami turned up the pressure. The Heat forced four turnovers and racked up four dunks as it built an 8-2 lead less than four minutes into the game.
Dwight Howard, the Lakers' other All-Star starter, had 13 points and a game-high 16 rebounds. Metta World Peace scored 16 points and Pau Gasol added 12 points off the bench in his first action since suffering a concussion against Denver on Jan. 6.
NOTES: Gasol made his return late in the first quarter and quickly scored four points and grabbed two rebounds. For the season, Gasol was averaging a career-low 12.2 points and 8.4 rebounds entering play Thursday. ... Wade missed last year's matchup with the Spurs on his birthday because of injury, The Heat defeated San Antonio 120-98 in his absence. ... Lakers guard Steve Blake (abdominal surgery) appears to be nearing a return as well, as he participated in light practice Wednesday for the first time since suffering the injury in early November. Blake, who had surgery Dec. 5, has played just seven games this season. His comeback has been delayed by a sore groin. ... The teams split last year's season series, 1-1, with each team winning at home. Bryant had 33 points, including 18 in the first quarter, to lift the Lakers to the 93-83 win on March 4, in the teams' last matchup. ... Bryant has scored 20-plus points in 23 consecutive games, the fourth-longest streak of his career.

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