Phil Jackson won't be any happier about his team playing on Christmas day after the Miami Heat, led by Lebron James, stole the show in Los Angeles on saturday night.
Jackson had questioned the NBA's acknowledgement of Christian holidays leading into the Lakers' showdown with the Heat.
The Heat had no problems playing on Christmas day as their big three led them to victory in front of a star-studded Staples Center crowd.
The Lakers never managed to recover from the slow start that they suffered in the first half as the Heat raced into a 47-38 lead at the half. Coming into the game the Heat's trio of Lebron James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade had accounted for 65% of their team's points, the most of any team in the league, and this game proved to be no different as James(28), Bosh(24) and Wade(18) were the difference for the Heat.
The often scrutinized Bosh was explosive from the start as he raced out to 12 points and 8 rebounds(finishing with 12 for the night) with six minutes left in the half. While Bosh was putting up the numbers it was James who was causing the Lakers the most problems. Nobody was able to match up to James as he ran the floor with his speed and picked out his teammates with ease. James was the catalyst on his way to his 31st career triple double(27 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists) but the whole team was moving the ball impressively which led to open looks at the basket. It was a stark contrast to the Heat of early in the season who were stagnant and slow to attack.
The Heat's hot start was not matched on the other side of the court as the Lakers' pivotal pieces didn't fall into place. At the end of the first quarter neither Kobe Bryant or Pau Gasol had scored a point. Bryant had gone 0/5 while Gasol had missed 7 shots. Bryant had improved to 3/10 and Gasol 3/11 by half time while the Lakers didn't have a single player in double digit points.
The Heat had no mercy for the wasteful Lakers as Bosh and Wade continued to get to the basket while Mario Chalmers and James combined for 5/6 from beyond the arc. The Heat were firing on all cylinders while the Lakers executed poorly on offense all night. The game was seemingly over going into halftime but the potential for a Kobe Bryant led comeback always lingered in the air.
Bryant added fuel to that fire of hope that Lakers fans were clinging to as he started the third quarter well by scoring himself before setting up Shannon Brown for an easy layup. Unfortunately for Lakers fans the revival barely lasted longer than the half time interval as the Miami big three took over once more led by Lebron James.
James' shooting from the three point line continued to be immaculate into the second half, he hit 5 of his 6 attempts while the only shot he missed was rushed after a quick break out of defense. Nothing worked for the Lakers as neither James or Wade missed a free throw throughout the game punishing any mistake from the Lakers' players.
The second half was barely a contest allowing the Heat to push out their lead to an eventual 16 point victory, 96-80. The Lakers' 80 points was completely atypical. The back-to-back defending champions were held well below their season averages in points, shooting percentage, 3-point percentage and free-throw percentage.
The Heat will surely build off of this huge victory as the NBA schedule heads into the new year while Phil Jackson and the Lakers look to have a lot of new years resolutions to make.