(Sports Network) - Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade may be apprehensive to drive
the lane this afternoon against the Los Angeles Lakers considering he is the
one responsible for Kobe Bryant's broken nose and subsequent concussion.
Not that the Lakers will take a page out of the New Orleans Saints' defense
and place a bounty on Wade, but it should be interesting when the two powers
collide Sunday at Staples Center. Wade delivered a hard foul on Bryant during
last Sunday's All-Star Game -- a game which has no meaning except for giving
the fans their money's worth with the NBA's best on display -- and the Lakers
star needed some medical attention for a bloody nose.
It was later determined Bryant suffered a concussion and the five-time
champion now has to wear a protective mask. Bryant is getting used to the
protective wear, but did reveal some issues with it.
"I just felt like I started sweating immediately," said Bryant of the mask.
"It was like a sauna on my face. I was drinking my own sweat or something, and
it was totally disgusting."
Bryant, who has been playing with an injured wrist all season, scored a game-
high 31 points, dished out eight assists and grabbed seven rebounds in almost
33 minutes of action in Los Angeles' 104-85 win over Minnesota on Wednesday.
He then posted 38 points and eight rebounds in Friday's 115-107 victory versus
Sacramento. Andrew Bynum added 19 points and 15 rebounds for the Lakers, who
are 2-0 on a three-game homestand and have won seven of nine overall. LA is
unbeaten in seven straight as the host and owns a 16-2 home record.
Keep an eye out for Bynum and Lakers forward Metta World Peace (Ron Artest)
when Wade goes inside this afternoon. Bynum, however, said he can't afford to
get slapped with another suspension and sat out the first four games of the
2011-12 campaign because of his flagrant foul on Dallas Mavericks guard Jose
Barea in the postseason.
With the win, the Lakers moved into a first-place tie in the Pacific Division
with the rival Los Angeles Clippers, who fell to the Phoenix Suns. Bryant was
asked afterwards about Sunday's showdown with the Heat.
"I'm still tired, but we've got to keep working," Bryant said. "Sunday is a
big game to see how we've improved since we played them in Miami."
After their showdown with Miami, the Lakers will play three in a row on the
road against Detroit, Washington and Minnesota.
The Heat will have to start a new winning streak after they had a nine-game
surge cut short in Friday's 99-98 loss at Utah in the second test of a three-
game road trip. Jazz guard Devin Harris converted a three-point play with 4.5
seconds to go after taking a foul by Wade.
LeBron James had a chance to cap a furious rally, but kicked the ball out to
Udonis Haslem after Josh Howard and Paul Millsap converged on the superstar.
James said he made the right move when asked about giving up the ball.
"I just try to make the right plays and do what it takes to win basketball
games," said James. "At the end of the day, games are not lost on one shot at
the end or me not taking a shot. But I know the chatter will begin. I wanted
that game as bad as anyone else on that floor."
James scored 35 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and handed out six assists,
while Wade netted 31 and ripped down six boards in the loss. The Heat were
without the third member of "The Big Three" as Chris Bosh missed his second
straight contest due to a death in the family. Bosh could return for this
anticipated matchup in Hollywood.
The Southeast Division-leading Heat are 13-6 away from South Beach this season
and had won six in a row as the guest before Friday's loss. After visiting the
Lakers Miami will head home for three straight games versus New Jersey,
Atlanta and Indiana.
Miami defeated the Lakers, 98-87, back on Jan. 19 this season at
AmericanAirlines Arena thanks to 31 points from James, who missed the pregame
shootaround with flu-like symptoms. Bryant shot just 8-of-21 from the field
and logged 24 points, 11 coming in the final 3:02 after the outcome had
essentially been decided.
"It's never been between me and Kobe," James insisted. "We get all the press
and limelight, but we just try to do whatever it takes to help our team win."
Wade did not play in that one because of an ankle injury. Miami has won four
straight against the Lakers, but has dropped seven of nine and 13 of its last
17 contests as the guest in this series.
The Sports Network