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Basketball / Sports

The Miami Heat's Michael Beasley goes to the basket against the Los Angeles Lakers' Jordan Hill (27) and Pau Gasol (16) during the fourth quarter at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. (David Santiago/El Nuevo Herald/MCT)

Lakers fall to Heat

MIAMI -- Nick Young watched as Chris Bosh made shot after shot. Finally, the Lakers leading scorer turned to the two-time champion Bosh on Thursday night at American Airlines Arena and asked, "Did you miss tonight?"

"He said, 'Man, I'm just having one of those nights,'" Young recalled after the Lakers lost, 109-102, to the Miami Heat.

Bosh led all scorers with 31 points, and while praise can certainly be directed toward the perennial All-Star, fingers were mostly being pointed at the Lakers and their porous defense. Coach Mike D'Antoni's Lakers have scored more than 100 points in their last six games, but have gone just 2-4 in that stretch.

Pau Gasol and Jodie Meeks led the Lakers with 22 points apiece. Gasol added 11 rebounds. Young, who had scored 60 points in the past two games, scored 16 of his 19 points in the second half.

"We'll find a way to score," D'Antoni said. "That's not our problem. Our problem is defense."

The Heat shot 57.7 percent from the field, despite playing without guard Dwyane Wade for the fourth straight game. Bosh alone made 15 of 22 shots.

"If we're in the positions we're supposed to be, yes we're going to give up some jumpers, but that's the most we should give up," Gasol said. "But sometimes we give up too many ... uncontested shots and that's just a thing we can't afford. If it happens too often, then we're in trouble."

The Lakers are past trouble. Thursday's loss was their 14th in the past 17 games, and dropped them to 2-3 amid a season-long seven-game trip.

After trailing by 16, the Lakers got it down to four twice, including with 2:50 left when Meeks made his fourth 3-pointer. But the Heat seemed to always have an answer. For that play it was a contested, step-back 3-pointer by LeBron James over Meeks.

"I played pretty good defense on him," Meeks said. "He just hit a tough shot. That's why he's LeBron. There's really nothing you can do, just play hard and hope he misses sometimes."

James finished with 27 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists.

BRYANT VOTED TO ALL-STAR GAME

Kobe Bryant made it known he is grateful for the honor.

He just doesn't want it.

Voted as a starter to his 16th All-Star Game on Thursday, Bryant said he intends to decline the invitation, given that he has been limited to six games by two major injuries.

"It's a huge honor to be voted in," Bryant said, "but at the same time you got to do what's right."

For a month, Bryant has encouraged fans to vote the NBA's younger stars into the All-Star Game, which will be played Feb. 16 in New Orleans.

"They deserve to play," he said before the Lakers played in Miami. "I don't see no reason they shouldn't be out there doing their thing."

There could be one hiccup in his plan, however. The league has traditionally objected to stars skipping the exhibition. In 2000, Utah Jazz power forward Karl Malone cut short a vacation with his family to participate after being threatened with suspension.

Bryant could find himself in a similar situation if he is deemed healthy and plays for the Lakers before the All-Star break.

If faced with suspension, Bryant would begrudgingly participate.

"It just means somebody will lose a spot, unfortunately," Bryant said. "Backups will be playing a lot because I'll go in there, do my two minutes and sit down."

An NBA spokesman said there is no official rule that a player will be suspended if he skips the All-Star Game.

According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the players' association and the league, a player can be excused for injury, illness or at the commissioner's discretion.

Adam Silver will replace the retiring commissioner David Stern on Feb. 1.

Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said he would not object to Bryant participating if he was healthy.

"I don't really have a feeling," he said. "He's been voted obviously because of what he's done in the past, not what he's done this season."

Bryant missed the first six weeks of the season because of a torn Achilles' tendon and has not played since Dec. 17 after breaking the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee.

He said he will next meet with a team doctor "in February" and will go from there to determine when he could return to the court.

Joining Bryant in the starting lineup for the Western Conference will be the Clippers' Blake Griffin, Golden State guard Stephen Curry, Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant and Minnesota forward Kevin Love.

For Eastern Conference starters, fans voted in Miami's LeBron James, Indiana's Paul George, New York's Carmelo Anthony, Miami's Dwyane Wade and Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving.

James was the leading vote-getter with 1,416,419 ballots, while Bryant was fifth with 988,884.

Nash closer?

While Bryant is likely weeks away from returning to the court, in a perfect scenario Steve Nash's timeline might only be days.

D'Antoni said the Lakers continue to look at Tuesday's game against the Indiana Pacers as a possible landing date for Nash.

"That's what they keep saying," D'Antoni said. "I think we'll see. He's going to try it. If it works out, great."

Nash has previously said he would like a week of practice with the team before returning to a game, which could keep him out Tuesday against the Pacers.

While the Lakers have been on the road, Nash has been in British Columbia working with his personal trainer. His return will be contingent on his progress in that time.

A two-time MVP when paired with D'Antoni in Phoenix, Nash has not played since Nov. 10 because of nerve root irritation in his back.

The Lakers are preparing to add back in all of the players they have lost this season to injury. Xavier Henry (knee) could play Sunday, while Steve Blake (elbow) has been shooting this week without the protective brace he has worn for the past month.

(c)2014 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)

Visit The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.) at www.ocregister.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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LAKERS


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