Miami Heat Cool Down L.A.: Winners and Losers Of Christmas Day Showdown

Not even the Miami Heat's season opener against the Boston Celtics was hyped as much as this game was. Coming into the season, the Heat and Los Angeles Lakers were believed to be destined for an NBA Finals clash of the titans that would feature five of the top twenty players in the league on the same court for a seven-game series.

Their Christmas game in the Staples Center was supposed to be a gauge to judge just how far the Heat have come as far as team chemistry is concerned, while the Lakers were just out to prove that they were still the team to beat in the NBA as defending back-to-back champions.

Last evening's Heat and Lakers Christmas Day match-up was hardly what anyone expected. While the Heat came out motivated on offense and defense, the Lakers just couldn't find a reason to get involved in the game. Their 14 points in the opening 12 minutes was the lowest they have scored all season in any first quarter. Miami would score 20 in the first quarter and led the rest of the way.

The lead would eventually hit double-digits in the third quarter and remain that way until the fourth quarter, when it topped out over 20 before the Heat put in their garbage time unit. Miami would eventually take the game 96-80 behind huge offensive games from James and Bosh and a huge defensive effort from Wade. The Heat's big three had significantly triumphed over the dynamic duo of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, as they were held scoreless for the first quarter and continued to struggle the rest of the way.

Much like they did in Cleveland and New York, the Heat had once again silenced a raucous crowd before the game was over. It took a little while longer than usual, but considering they were facing the Kobe Bryant-led Lakers, anything was possible until the clock hit 0:00. However, the 20-point lead that the Lakers faced was far beyond any Christmas miracles they could conjure up.

As Kobe vents his frustration with his team, the H...

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