for this game

Bynum lifts Lakers to close win over Heat

Jan 12, 2009 - 6:52 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Kobe Bryant again misfired against the Miami Heat. This time, Andrew Bynum had his back.

Bynum tipped in Bryant's miss with just under 19 seconds remaining Sunday, helping to lift the Los Angeles Lakers to a 108-105 victory over the Heat in a matchup of two of the NBA's top three leading scorers.

Bynum had 24 points and six rebounds for the Lakers, who suffered an 89-87 loss to the Heat on December 19, when Bryant's game-tying attempt rimmed out at the buzzer.

With the game tied at 102-102 on Sunday, Bryant drove to Dwyane Wade's right, was swallowed up by three defenders and left his jumper short, allowing Bynum to overpower Udonis Haslem and give his team the lead for good.

"I was just in the right place at the right time," Bynum said. "I was in position to get a rebound but the ball stayed up long enough for me to tip it in. This was a good win for us tonight.

"I felt like this was one of my best games all year and just want to build from this one."

It was an inconsistent performance by Los Angeles. But according to Vladimir Radmanovic, the team will take it.

"We all stepped up when Kobe and Pau (Gasol) didn't shoot well," said Radmanovic, who scored 18 points. "I'm happy I'm playing and contributing to wins right now. I think we didn't play that well tonight but came away with the win anyway."

To do so, the Lakers dodged a late bullet.

Chris Quinn - one of the league's premier sharpshooters - missed a wide-open 3-pointer with 6.6 ticks left before Radmanovic hit two free throws for the Lakers to make it 106-102.

"The bottom line at the end of the day is that we had a chance to win, and we will take that wide-open three from one of the best 3-point shooters in the league," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Quinn's open look.

"We just did not have an answer, but the effort was there. We have to make our defense our identity."

After a timeout, Miami's Daequan Cook hit a quick 3-pointer from the left corner with 4.7 left. Bryant then made two free throws to make it a three-point game, allowing the Heat one more chance to tie.

Miami, which did not have a timeout, hurried the ball to half-court, where Wade dished to a wide-open Cook, whose follow-through looked to be impeded by Derek Fisher, causing his 3-pointer to fall short as time expired.

Bryant, who is two spots behind Wade in the scoring race, netted just 19 points for Los Angeles (30-6), which has won three straight and is the second team to reach 30 wins this season after Orlando (30-8) did so earlier in the day.

"I just try to do whatever it takes to get the win," said Bryant, who expended most of his energy guarding Wade and even received four stitches above his right eye after the two collided late in the game. "I didn't shoot the ball well tonight, but the guys came through and picked me up.

"We went in trying to limit Wade's touches, but he still managed to shoot well. I thought we did a good job defensively and have to carry that over on the road trip. Chasing Dwyane all night was tiring."

Wade had 27 points and nine assists for the Heat, who trailed for most of the game but took a brief lead in the fourth quarter.

The league's leading scorer even took some positives out of the loss.

"We played a good game against those guys again, but didn't get what we wanted," Wade said. "We gave it our all but fell short.

"Right now, we are starting to play a lot better and we can take a lot from this game after having a chance to pull off the win against one of the best teams in the league."

Rookie Michael Beasley gave the Miami its lone advantage in the final period, 90-89, on a jumper from the right elbow.

The Lakers responded with an 11-5 run en route to a 100-95 advantage before Beasley drilled a 3-pointer and nailed two free throws sandwiched around two foul shots from Bryant.

With the Lakers holding a 102-100 lead, Wade stole Bryant's pass and flipped the ball ahead to Haslem, who cruised in for the jam to tie the game and set up the exciting final sequence.

Gasol had 14 points and 18 rebounds for Los Angeles, which trailed by one at halftime and led by four after three quarters.

Beasley scored 23 points off the bench for the Heat, who were coming off a 119-115 overtime win over the Sacramento Kings - during which Wade scored 41 points.

"Every game I feel more comfortable and confident," said Beasley, who was the No. 2 overall pick in last June's draft. "I think we played well but couldn't pull out the win. We played better on both sides of the ball tonight."