Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 1/18/13
LOS ANGELES It looks like the Miami Heat is back on the right trackon and off the court. LeBron James scored 39 points10 in the fourth quarterto give the defending NBA champions a hard-fought 99-90 win over the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center. In the judgment of head coach Erik Spoelstra, it was more than just a win to even their record on the trip at 3-3. "From the very first day we left Miami," Spoelstra said, "we wanted to accomplish a few things. One, we wanted to connect together as a group away from (home), and we wanted to build a road resolve; a toughness to find ways to win games when you're not shooting the ball particularly well. "On the road when things don't always go your way and you don't have the momentum and confidence of your home crowd, you just have to find a way to win. (Tonight) is a perfect example. "We never got into a real flow offensively until late in the game, then we did the things necessary to win. Give the Laker defense credit though, especially Dwight Howard, who protects the paint as well as anybody in this league. But our aggressiveness tied it all together on both ends of the court. "The other thing we wanted to do was to get better. Step by step, we think that ultimately we got better on this road trip." With James, of course, leading the way offensively and defensively. Along with the 39 points, he also guarded a suddenly-hot Kobe Bryant, who had scored 10 of the Lakers first 18 points in the final quarter. But the reigning MVP held the NBA's leading scorer to just 3 points down the stretch to help seal the win. "I just went out there and did my job," said James, who asked Spoelstra to put him on Bryant after his early-quarter explosion. "He's a guy who's scored 30,000 points in this league, so he's going to make a coupleand we can live with that. But we wanted to contest his shots, so I did what I could to slow him down." After a slow start, Bryant finished with 22 points, but took some of the responsibility for the loss. "I allowed myself to be too much of a decoy," he said. "I should have been more aggressive from the start, using screens and catching and shooting. But we just didn't execute very well and they did." Which is something you expect on a nightly basis from the defending world champions, a team with the knowledge of how to close outgames. But they lost six of their last eleven prior to Thursday and were in danger of dropping out of the top spot in the East before beating the Warriors Wednesday night. Chris Bosh said that no matter how good your team is or what is on the line, sometimes things just don't go the way you hope they will. "We're not invincible," said Bosh, who contributed seven points and six rebounds. "It's not always going to be all good and sometimes you have times that bring you back to reality. "That can be good for you as a team, and I think it helped us put things back together the last two games."
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