Lakers guard Kobe Bryant tries to disrupt the dribble of Heat forward LeBron… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)
The Lakers' first signature victory of the season, a 93-83 victory over the Miami Heat, had Kobe Bryant's imprint all over it.
The masked Bryant scored 33 points, including several fourth-quarter jumpers that kept the Miami Heat from making the game uncomfortably close on Sunday at Staples Center.
Making his performance all the more impressive was that it came against one of the NBA's top teams, albeit one missing power forward Chris Bosh for the entire game and Dwyane Wade for the final 5 minutes 14 seconds after the All-Star guard fouled out following a flurry of four fouls in rapid-fire succession.
Wade's foul problems had the Staples Center crowd roaring in approval, payback for the perceived villain delivering the hard foul on Bryant in theNBAAll-Star Game last week that left the Lakers guard in need of the mask to protect his sore nose.
The Heat trailed 79-72 when Wade fouled out, and Bryant did his best to make sure Miami didn't come much closer by making three jumpers to account for the Lakers' next six points.
Bryant also made a 16-foot fadeaway jumper with 1:05 left to give the Lakers an 89-81 lead and finished the game making 14 of 23 shots. Metta World Peace added 17 points while Andrew Bynum had 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Lakers.
It was a strange, frustrating game for Wade, who finished with 16 points on seven-for-17 shooting in 31 minutes. Wade's third foul came for kicking Andrew Bynum when Wade drove to the basket; his fourth came on a charge into the Lakers' Steve Blake; the fifth was for bumping Bryant in the backcourt; and his sixth came when Wade attempted to contest an alley-oop pass to Bynum.
Wade then sat on the bench with a towel draped over his head and a blank expression on his face. The Heat had gone 88 previous games without a player fouling out, the longest streak in the shot-clock era, according to ESPN.
LeBron James finished with 25 points, making 12 of 26 shots, for Miami.
Lakers 71, Heat 62 (end of third quarter)
Tensions are starting to mount, along with the drama.
Frustrated that no call was made on an apparent foul in the quarter's final seconds, Miami's LeBron James pushed the Lakers' Troy Murphy.
Pau Gasol delivered a retaliatory nudge to James amid a scrum of players before things cooled off. Technical fouls were assessed to James and Gasol.
The Lakers scored the final seven points of the quarter after Miami had pulled to within 64-62, using a Kobe Bryant turnaround jumper, a Steve Blake three-pointer and a Metta World Peace layup off an alley-oop feed from Blake.
Bryant had only four points in the quarter, pushing his total to 24 for the game. He appeared to knock over a couple of chairs on the Lakers' bench in frustration during a timeout earlier in the quarter after Miami had trimmed a onetime 16-point deficit to five.
James has 23 points and Dwyane Wade has 12 for the Heat.
Lakers 50, Heat 38 (halftime)
Kobe Bryant's production dipped dramatically in the second quarter, and so did the energy level inside Staples Center.
Bryant made the only shot he took while playing six minutes in the quarter, giving him 20 points for the half.
That's as many points as Miami's LeBron James (12) and Dwyane Wade (eight) have combined, and the scoreboard reflects the Heat duo's relative ineffectiveness after they made nine of 22 shots.
It was a strage quarter for Wade, who airballed a 27-footer and then watched another jumper deflect off the top of the backboard. Wade even had trouble making free throws, converting one of two shots as fans vociferously booed the perceived villain.
The Lakers' Metta World Peace also took part in the weirdness, spinning like a ballerina toward the basket on an acrobatic layup. Reserve shooting guard Andrew Goudelock provided a boost for the Lakers in the quarter by making a pair of three-pointers.
World Peace has nine points and Lakers center Andrew Bynum has eight points and seven rebounds. The Lakers are shooting 51.4% to the Heat's 37.5%.
Miami appears to dearly miss starting power forward Chris Bosh, who is still away from the team following the death of his grandmother. Udonis Haslem, who started in Bosh's place, has missed all four of his shots and is scoreless.
Lakers 28, Heat 20 (end of first quarter)
The mask is on Kobe Bryant but the gloves are off.
Bryant came out firing in the first quarter Sunday against the Miami Heat and Dwyane Wade, the player who made Bryant an unwitting fashion symbol with his translucent protective mask.
Bryant had 12 points in the first six minutes and finished the quarter with 18 points on eight-for-10 shooting as the Lakers took a 28-20 lead at Staples Center.
Bryant made an array of fadeaway jumpers, driving layups and, perhaps most impressively, a floater that he turned into a three-point play after drawing a foul from Wade. It was exactly a week ago that the Heat guard delivered a hard foul to Bryant that resulted in a broken nose, concussion and whiplash symptoms.
LeBron James has 10 points, making five of 10 shots, but Wade has only two points for the Heat.
The Heat was missing forward Chris Bosh, who sat out a third consecutive game following the death of his grandmother. Udonis Haslem started in Bosh's place.
Not all was well with the Lakers. Starting point guard Derek Fisher picked up his second foul with 5 minutes 38 seconds left in the quarter for bumping Mario Chalmers and had to go to the bench, replaced by Steve Blake.
Blake had the crowd roaring near the end of the quarter when he threw an alley-oop pass that Matt Barnes grabbed for a ferocious dunk.