LeBron sinks 39, Heat handle Lakers

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 18, 2013
LeBron James had 39 points and eight assists, Dwyane Wade added 27 points on his 31st birthday and the Miami Heat held off the Los Angeles Lakers 99-90 Thursday night to finish their six-game road trip with three wins. Ray Allen scored seven of his nine points in the final five minutes as the defending NBA champions repelled a late charge by the Lakers, who lost for the seventh time in nine games. Kobe Bryant scored 13 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter for Los Angeles, which rallied for a brief lead midway through the final period before James and Allen secured the Heat's second win in their last eight road games against the Lakers. Dwight Howard had 13 points and 16 rebounds, but missed two key free throws with 1:51 left while Miami pulled away, capping the All-Star starting center's 5-for-13 effort at the line. Metta World Peace scored 16 points for the Lakers, who committed 20 turnovers and didn't score in the final 2½ minutes. Pau Gasol had 12 points and four rebounds in his return from a five-game absence with a concussion for the Lakers, who had hoped to build on consecutive victories following a six-game losing streak that knocked them well out of the Western Conference playoff picture. Instead, James and Wade demonstrated why they're the champions and the Lakers are in 11th place in the West. James and Wade got little help until Allen's late flurry, but they didn't need it. Chris Bosh had just seven points and six rebounds in 35 minutes for Miami. Bryant scored at least 20 points in his 23rd consecutive game, but the NBA's leading scorer missed 14 of his first 17 shots. Miami held a narrow lead for most of the first three quarters until Bryant hit two 3-pointers and two jumpers during a 14-3 Lakers run to an 84-81 lead in the fourth quarter. Allen put the Heat back ahead with a 3-pointer with 4:55 to play, but Bryant tied it with his third 3 of the quarter with 2:33 left. After Wade hit a jumper, Howard missed two free throws -- airballing the first -- and Allen hit a high-arching jumper in the paint before James iced it with a short bank shot with 49 seconds left. The game featured four of the 10 starters in next month's All-Star game, with Bryant edging James by roughly 7,800 votes as the top vote-getter in the final results announced earlier in the day. Wade and Howard also will start in Houston. Bryant is headed to his 15th All-Star Game in 17 NBA seasons, starting a record 15 consecutive times, while Howard will be a seven-time All-Star. While Bryant's popularity and success are undeniable, even Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni was somewhat surprised Howard had been voted to a starting spot. ''When you're under .500 and you have two guys on the All-Star (team), that's kind of like, `Really?''' D'Antoni said before the game. ''He's coming back from injury, and he's played at the All-Star level the last two or three games.'' Earl Clark stayed in the Lakers' starting lineup on his 25th birthday, but Gasol played well off the bench in his first game since Denver's JaVale McGee elbowed him in the face Jan. 6. Miami had lost everywhere except Northern California on its West Coast trip, but the Heat's blowout win over Golden State on Wednesday night allowed James, Wade and Bosh to rest for the entire fourth quarter. Miami then got off to a ferocious start with dunks on its first four shots while forcing five Lakers turnovers in the first 3½ minutes. Los Angeles settled down and got back into the game with balanced scoring and good rebounding despite continuing to turn the ball over at an alarming rate. James and Wade combined for 31 points in the first half, but their seven teammates managed just 13 points on 4-for-21 shooting. The Lakers committed 16 turnovers, but minimized Miami's second-chance points, allowing just two offensive rebounds in the first half after Milwaukee grabbed 21 offensive boards against them two nights earlier. Notes The Lakers visit Miami on Feb. 10 in the final stop of their seven-game road trip while the Grammy Awards take over Staples Center. Los Angeles hasn't won at American Airlines Arena since Feb. 10, 2008. ... Lakers G Steve Blake won't travel with the club on its upcoming three-game road trip while getting more treatment on his injured groin. Blake has played in just five games this season while dealing with an abdominal injury that required surgery. ... Bryant scored at least 20 points in 62 straight games from December 2005 to April 2006. ... Mark Wahlberg, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Queen Latifah, Ellen Pompeo, director Ron Howard and Los Angeles Kings players Dustin Penner, Drew Doughty and Trevor Lewis watched from courtside.
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