LOS ANGELES--The miracles expired in the final minutes of Wednesday's game, the Miami Heat's collection of All-Stars finally outweighing the Los Angeles Lakers and their one healthy point guard.
It wasn't really unexpected, the Heat that much better than the Lakers, and it underlined so many things about the home team on another Christmas Day loss, this one 101-95 at Staples Center.
Nick Young's all-or-nothing act is often a joy to watch and the Lakers can hang with good teams if they make a slew of three-pointers, but, of greatest importance, there is still no closer on this team.
Truth be told, Lakers fans seemed plenty awed by two first-half alley-oop dunks by LeBron James from Dwyane Wade, an obvious nod to the gulf between the 12th-place team in the Western Conference and the two-time NBA champions.
"Those guys are the best the league has to offer," Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni said. "You see some plays that you just don't normally see. LeBron's so strong and Wade, they come at you. It's impressive."
The Lakers are now 6-10 on Christmas since drafting Kobe Bryant and 0-5 against the Heat on Dec. 25.
Maybe they'll have better luck New Year's Eve against Philadelphia. Then again, it's hard to be optimistic about them any day of the year right now.
It could have been worse. They could have been getting crushed in Phoenix by 27 or at Golden State by 19, which just happened.
"The last two games we were just getting murdered, getting killed," said Young, who had 20 points. "To come back and fight like that today is a step forward, I think, for us."
Young, one for eight in the first half, also kept moving along, taking on James in the third quarter and actually winning. It's true.
Young was guarded by James for all 12 points he scored in the third quarter. He completed a four-point play for the third time in the last four games and beat James on another three-pointer to bring the Lakers within 76-74 going into the fourth.
"I'm not afraid of nobody. I know my teammates aren't either," said Young, who guarded James for substantial chunks and helped hold him to 19 points on seven-for-14 shooting. "I wasn't about to say, 'Nah, Coach. I'm scared.'"
Said James: "We all know Nick, if he makes one he can make four or five in a row. He can also miss four or five in a row too."
Jodie Meeks had 17 points as the Lakers made 14 of 36 three-point attempts (38.9 percent). Jordan Farmar wasn't so effective, missing six of seven shots in his first game since Dec. 1 because of a torn hamstring.
"I felt like I hadn't played basketball for a month," said Farmar, an actual healthy point guard for the Lakers, who again played without Bryant, Steve Nash and Steve Blake.
Wade and Chris Bosh each had 23 points for Miami (22-6). Wade's hang-in-the-air reverse layup gave the Heat a 98-92 lead with 52.9 seconds left.
The Lakers (13-16) weren't so smooth in the final 12 minutes, going more than 41/2 minutes at one point without scoring after taking an 81-79 lead with 10 minutes left.
It probably didn't help that they also missed 11 of 26 free throws.
"We're not quite there yet," said Pau Gasol, whose 12-footer ended the fourth-quarter drought with 3:48 to play. "They're a team that closes well."
Gasol could have extended his thoughts if he wanted. Miami's a team that does pretty much everything well.
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