(Sports Network) - Two of the NBA's top superstars collide once again Sunday
in south Florida, where LeBron James and the Miami Heat will entertain Kobe
Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Heat got the best of the Lakers in the first matchup, a 99-90 victory by
the defending champions at Staples Center on Jan. 17. James had 39 points,
eight assists and seven rebounds, while Bryant led L.A. with 22 points. The
Heat have won five of the last six in this series, and are unbeaten in the
past four at home against the Lakers.
Los Angeles has lost 10 of 15 and 13 of the last 19 at Miami.
Miami has won four in a row overall and nine of its last 11 games, including
Friday's 111-89 beatdown of the Clippers. The Clippers welcomed back four
vital pieces to their puzzle: Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Jamal Crawford and
Chauncey Billups, but it wasn't enough to slow down the Heat.
James, the league's reigning MVP, scored 30 points in just under 31 minutes of
action and Dwyane Wade ended with 20 points. Mario Chalmers netted 18 points
and made five 3-pointers for the Heat, who are 3-0 on a five-game homestand
and unbeaten in the last six games at AmericanAirlines Arena. Miami, which
shot 52.9 percent and made 15-of-27 from downtown, is a sizzling 21-3 as the
"Every year it seems like he does the amazing," said Wade of James, who made
9-of-11 shots and 4-of-5 3-pointers. "He is on a streak right now that is
awesome and I love it. We would love for him to continue to do that, but one
day he is going to shoot just 50 percent. We will take it."
The Heat will close out the homestand Tuesday versus Portland.
On the injury front for the Heat, guard Ray Allen (flu) and center Chris Bosh
(flu) are both questionable Sunday.
Meanwhile, Bryant said the Lakers need to play with urgency and they are
coming off Friday's 100-93 win at Charlotte. The Lakers trailed by a 30-20
score after the first quarter and 53-41 at halftime, before rallying in the
final two periods for their seventh win in nine tries.
Bryant scored 14 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter and also added eight
assists and seven rebounds.
"In the second half I got in positions where I could catch and in turn shoot a
little bit," Bryant said. "They became a little reluctant to double-team
because starting knocking down some shots. I think that makes the game a lot
Earl Clark chipped in 17 points and 10 boards, while Dwight Howard came
through with 12 points and 11 rebounds for Los Angeles, which is 4-2 on a
seven-game Grammy road trip. Clark's minutes have increased the past month
with both Howard and Pau Gasol nursing injuries. He has posted five double-
doubles in his last seven games.
L.A. is 9-17 as the visitor and will return to Staples Center for a four-game
homestand versus the Suns, Clippers, Celtics and Trail Blazers.
The Sports Network