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Heat dodge last-second bullet from Bryant, Lakers

Dec 20, 2008 - 5:27 AM By Chris Stock PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

MIAMI (Ticker) -- Kobe Bryant's 10-foot jumper went halfway down before spinning out of the basket on Friday as the Miami Heat survived the Los Angeles Lakers' fourth-quarter rally for an 89-87 victory.

After Dwyane Wade, who had 35 points, knocked down 1-of-2 foul shots, the Lakers called a timeout with 6.5 seconds left. They got the ball to Bryant off the inbounds play and he worked toward the hoop before firing and seeing the ball just rim out.

"I think we earned ourselves probably our best win so far this year against a good team," Wade said. "We're proud of that victory. The thing about the NBA is that you can't celebrate for that long, you've got to turn around tomorrow and try to get another one."

The Heat used a strong third quarter to take a 12-point lead going into the final dozen minutes - and needed that entire advantage as the Lakers outscored them, 24-14, in the final quarter.

"We're a young, exciting team that's in a little bit of a different spot than the Lakers," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "They're coming off a Finals trip and they're a team already established. We're a team that's going to try and create a culture and hopefully get better as the season goes on."

Wade, the league's leading scorer, made 13-of-25 from the floor and 7-of-10 free throws. He also grabbed six rebounds.

"He's a fantastic player," Bryant said. "I was just telling someone that he's probably one of the greatest pick-and-roll players I have ever seen. He hits that space and he's gone."

Bryant scored 28 points on 12-of-24 shooting for the Lakers, who would pull within 84-80 on Trevor Ariza's 3-pointer with two minutes left. Following that bucket, Wade and Pau Gasol alternated scoring twice for their respective teams.

The Heat nearly lost the ball on their next possession as Bryant tied up Wade for a loose ball.

Wade won the tip and Udonis Haslem was immediately fouled. Haslem missed both free throws, leaving the door open for the Lakers, who trailed 88-84 with 54 seconds left.

Bryant took advantage, knocking down a short jumper with 41 seconds left. Wade missed a shot, but the Heat managed to block three shots on the defensive end - including two by Wade.

On the ensuing inbounds pass, Gasol was fouled with 8.5 seconds left. He missed the first foul shot but made the second to pull the Lakers within 88-87.

Wade's 1-of-2 showing from the line gave the Lakers one last chance.

Bryant caught the inbounds pass but could not find an open look. Shawn Marion hounded him the entire possession, forcing Bryant into a contested 10-footer, which rimmed out.

"That is what we wanted," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "It just did not go in."

Daequan Cook scored 14 points and Marion added 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Heat, who snapped a three-game losing streak.

"At the end of the day, we took them out of everything they wanted to do and put a lot of pressure on them," Marion said.

Derek Fisher and Gasol each scored 13 points for the Lakers, who had a four-game winning streak snapped and scored less than 100 points for only the second time in the last 17 games.

"We tried to get Pau open and we didn't get it to him," Jackson said. "Lamar (Odom) had a couple of horrendous sessions out there. We just did not get ourselves going."

Bryant buried made a reverse layup to beat the first-quarter buzzer, tying the game at 26-26.

The Lakers led throughout the second, leading by as many as eight points after Bryant's long jumper stretched the lead to 41-33. The Heat closed the quarter on a 9-2 run, including Marion's dunk with one second left, as the teams went into halftime tied

"When you come to the East Coast you expect to have games like that (defensive battles)," Bryant said. "It's more of a slow-down type of game. We're comfortable playing that style and it's fine for us, too. You have to take care of business."

The Heat began to pull away late in the third quarter and led 72-63 after Cook's 3-pointer.

"We had a terrible third quarter," Jackson said.

In the closing seconds of the third, Wade held the ball for the final shot and proceeded to make a move toward the basket, but Ariza deflected the ball, forcing Wade to retreat.

Wade scooped up the ball and fired a desperation 33-footer off one foot at the buzzer that somehow dropped in to give the Heat a 75-63 lead.

"I was just trying to get a shot up and when I released it, I knew it had a good chance of going in," Wade said.

After the basket, Wade paused on one knee as his teammates came over to congratulate him.

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