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Lakers hit points of no return in Miami

Offense fails for the second game in a row in a 98-87 loss to the Heat, who romp with an ill LeBron James and without injured Dwyane Wade.

January 19, 2012|By Mike Bresnahan
  • Lakers power forward Pau Gasol looks for an open teammate against the triple-team defense of Miami's Chris Bosh, Shane Battier and Joel Anthony in the second half Thursday night at American Airlines Arena.
Lakers power forward Pau Gasol looks for an open teammate against the triple-team… (Lynne Sladky / Associated…)

Reporting from Miami -- This time, the entire team should have stuck around for extra on-court work.

Kobe Bryant famously did it here last March after a loss, but at least that game was worth watching. The effort Thursday was an affront to Lakers followers, a meek 98-87 loss to the Miami Heat that created new questions about their scoring punch.

Never was it more obvious the Lakers were a little lacking on offense, a peculiar place for a team with so much alleged firepower, but there they were again, going into the fourth quarter at AmericanAirlines Arena with only 56 points.

It was a lot like their slow-speed chase Monday against Dallas, which ended in a 73-70 Lakers victory and featured a seven-point third quarter, their second-worst in since the shot-clock era.

This one ended with Kobe Bryant making eight of 21 shots, one of eight in the first half, and starters Derek Fisher and Matt Barnes combining for five points.

The Lakers (10-6) are now 1-5 on the road, their only triumph a 90-87 victory over Utah. In overtime.

How bad would Thursday have been if Dwyane Wade played? We'll never know. He and his 19.6 points a game were sidelined because of a sprained ankle.

The Lakers trailed by 23 and made a late push to move to within 94-84, and that was as good as it got for them.

Miami fans began heading for the exits with several minutes left (yep, there's traffic here too). Their team was in good hands. LeBron James had 31 points, eight rebounds and eight assists despite skipping the morning shoot-around because he had flu symptoms.

Miami center Eddy Curry hadn't played a game since 2009, but even he had six points and three rebounds in six minutes.

The Lakers' locker room was quiet after the game, but there were fireworks at halftime, Coach Mike Brown loudly telling players to trust their defense.

The problem, however, is the offense.

"It's under construction," Bryant said dryly. "We're still working on the blueprints, actually."

And that feels ...?

"Strange," he said after so many seasons of the triangle offense.

Remember Pau Gasol? He actually played well, following up his invisible eight-point game against Dallas with 26 against Miami. Andrew Bynum had 15 points but made only six of 13 shots.

"When I get it, I've got to do something with it," he said. "If I'm not doing anything, then they're going to have to skip over [me]."

Bryant stayed an extra hour after the Lakers' 94-88 loss here last year, shooting a slew of three-pointers and mid-range jumpers until his Lakers T-shirt was wet with sweat.

There was no extra shooting for him Thursday after playing 41 minutes, a surprising 11 in the fourth quarter despite the imbalance on the scoreboard. He finished with 24 points.

Bynum played all 12 minutes of the fourth quarter. The Lakers play in Orlando on Friday.

"I wanted to see our guys fight," Brown said. "I didn't care what the score was at that point. They did [fight], so it's a confidence-builder for me and hopefully it's a confidence-builder for them too."

The Lakers shot 31% in the first half and trailed at the break, 52-37.

"We normally play hard, but tonight just wasn't one of those nights," Bryant said.

Or, as Bynum said, "It stinks, man. It stinks."

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

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