Los Angeles Lakers: Miami Loss Shows Good and Bad of 2013 Team

Thursday night was a case of a team looking better in defeat than it has in some victories. The Los Angeles Lakers played with heart, hustle and fought with the world champions for 48 minutes.

They came up short, falling 99-90 to the Miami Heat largely due to a virtuoso performance from LeBron James (39 points on 17-of-25 shooting). 

But even though they are 17-22, this game, this effort showed me that the Lakers are not that far away.

Tonight was a winnable game in spite of 16 first-half turnovers and 20 overall. It was 90-90 after Kobe Bryant's three-pointer with 2:30 remaining, but Bryant was largely smothered by James and Dwyane Wade, who was 8-of-25.

Steve Nash was careless at times with the ball and Dwight Howard shot just 5-of-13 at the free-throw line, including two big misses with the score 92-90.

And yet, there were more than just moral victories.

The defense looked as active and consistent as it has all year. I give more credit to James and Wade than I place blame on Los Angeles' defense tonight. Those are just a pair of the best offensive finishers in the game.

So let's look at this game on a level basis. Because as I said before, while this was a nice sizzle game, the steak comes over the next month for the Lakers. 



Rebounding. The Lakers out-rebounded Miami 42-35, and much of that gap closed because of the misses late in the game. Howard and Earl Clark looked like the bigger duo, combining for 23 rebounds. The team only allowed four offensive rebounds, and after a ragged start to the game, did a great job of making Miami earn its points.

Pau Gasol: "The Spaniard" returned and looked sharp, scoring 12 points with four rebounds and four assists. Even more encouraging, he was aggressive in the paint, save for an ill-advised three-point shot in the first half.

This was punctuated with a fierce slam...

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