LOS ANGELES (AP) — With Dwyane Wade in the locker room and Chris Bosh enduring a nightmare of a shooting night, the Miami Heat still found the defensive moxie to finish an unlikely Staples Center sweep.
Mario Chalmers scored nine of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, and Hassan Whiteside added 15 in Miami’s 78-75 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night.
Bosh scored eight points on 4-of-17 shooting for the Heat, who followed up their surprise victory over the Clippers two days ago with their first back-to-back victories in 24 games since Nov. 23 — a stunning statistic for the four-time defending Eastern Conference champions.
“When you don’t win two games in a row for a while, you appreciate stuff,” Bosh said. “It was a little ugly at times. My shot wasn’t falling. But we stuck with it, no matter what happened. They made some runs, and we answered.”
With Chalmers opening up his offensive game, Miami held off the Lakers despite losing Wade to a strained left hamstring late in the first half. After the Heat’s 18-0 run to open the game eventually dwindled to a one-point lead, they hung in with defensive stops on Kobe Bryant and his teammates, capped by Bryant’s missed 3-pointer with 2 seconds left.
“We were doing our job defensively,” Wade said. “We were trying to make it tough on them. They shot jump shots. We contested. They missed a lot early. We capitalized on it. So I can’t say we did anything special. We did what we had to do, what we needed to do, and we got out to a great start.”
Bryant scored 12 points on 3-of-19 shooting in his return to the Lakers’ lineup after missing three of the last four games to rest. Bryant’s 3-pointer with 31 seconds to play trimmed Miami’s lead to three points, but he couldn’t connect on his final shot.
“The hard part is sitting down for stretches and then trying to get back in,” Bryant said. “I feel like the Tin Man, you know what I mean? But that’s just part of the process, part of the challenge. It’s not something I’m whining or complaining about. I’ll just work through it and get my legs used to playing again.”
Bryant missed 11 of his first 12 shots, including four 3-pointers, before finally hitting a 3-pointer with 2:44 to play, trimming Miami’s lead to 72-68. The Lakers missed 15 of their first 16 3-point attempts overall.
Ed Davis and Jordan Hill also scored 12 points apiece for the Lakers, who have lost eight of 11.
The Lakers silenced their own crowd in their fifth straight loss to Miami by missing their first 11 shots and two free throws before Bryant finally hit a jumper more than 7 1/2 minutes in.
Nick Young went 2 for 11 and Wesley Johnson went 3 for 13 for the Lakers.
“We dug ourselves a hole, and it’s just hard to keep skating uphill for an entire game,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said.
Heat: Former Lakers forward Shawne Williams hit a 3-pointer and grabbed two rebounds in 3 minutes of play. … Wade also had five assists and five rebounds. … Chris Andersen had 12 points and eight assists.
Lakers: Young has made 30 consecutive free throws. … Newcomer Tarik Black had another impressive game in a reserve role, getting nine points and nine rebounds. … Miguel Herrera, the manager of the Mexican national soccer team, attended the game.
Wade finished with four points in 14 minutes. The three-time NBA champion missed seven games in November with a hamstring strain, and his availability is uncertain for the final two games of Miami’s West Coast road trip this week. “I could have played the game, but I decided to be smart this time and catch it early and not make it any worse,” Wade said. “Since I caught it early, we’ll take it day by day.”
The Lakers got off to one of the worst starts imaginable, with all five starters combining on their miserable shooting. Los Angeles missed 18 of its 22 shots in the first quarter, yet trailed only 44-34 at halftime with a second-quarter rally.
Heat: At Golden State on Wednesday.
Lakers: Host Cleveland on Thursday.
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