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The Miami Heat had their nine-game winning streak snapped when LeBron James passed up the final shot in a 99-98 loss to the Utah Jazz. When the Heat came into town to face the Los Angeles Lakers, there was no need for LeBron to take a final shot - it's not like he would anyway. Kobe Bryant led the Lakers to a 93-83 win over the Eastern Conference superpower. Earning this victory for the Lakers was an indicator of just how much they have progressed in the last month. The Lakers focused on what they wanted to do to the Heat and executed mightily.
There were many storylines heading into this contest, but let's look at some of the storylines that turned the game in favor of the Lakers:
LeBron James couldn't do it alone
LeBron James has recently been criticized for his unwillingness to take the final shot of the game when necessary. In this game with the Lakers, that was not necessary as the Heat lost by 10 points. The Heat star couldn't get things done on his own as Chris Bosh missed his third game due to a death in his family and Dwyane Wade fouled out of the game with 5:14 left - just the second time in his career he's fouled out. Even with Wade on the floor, the Lakers were taking it to the Heat and showing the league exactly what kind of basketball team they really are.
The mask is working
Whatever Kobe Bryant has done to gain an advantage using that mask is working. He has scored at least 30 points in each of the three games since the All-Star break, when Wade broke his nose on a hard foul during the All-Star game. The mask has become somewhat of a symbol of Kobe's status as a superhero in L.A. Kobe playing with a mask shows fans just how dedicated he is to making the Lakers better. He hasn't missed a game this year and whether it was a torn ligament in his wrist or a broken nose he still continues to produce.
Metta World Peace
For the second game in a row Metta World Peace was looking more and more like the Ron Artest we had all come to know during his days in Sacramento - when he would average close to 20 points per game. World Peace scored 17 points against the Heat after his 15 point performance against his old team, the Sacramento Kings. If this is the re-emergence of World Peace's offensive abilities, then I would have to say that it is about time. Not only did he put down 17 points, but he also grabbed seven rebounds, dished out three assists and even blocked one shot. Welcome back World Peace.
The Lakers now head out on the road for three games, including one back-to-back against the Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards, followed by a game with the Minnesota Timberwolves. All of these games may be just the thing the Lakers need to continue their steak and open up their play on the road - especially in trying to improve their road record.
David is co-founder of wrapupp sports blog where fresh content is posted daily and present sports blogs and sports opinions - all with a West Coast bias. Growing up in the Bay Area, David is a huge supporter of all the local sports teams; the Giants, Athletics, Warriors, Sharks, 49ers, and Raiders. His one fault, admittedly, as many of his friends and family would say, is his love for the Los Angeles Lakers. Growing up, Magic Johnson was his favorite basketball player and he fell in love with the team. He chalks it up to, "Not knowing any better". Now his love for sports has turned just as academic as it is intuitive and he follows most all sports all over the nation.