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How big a deal?

Was overhearing a conversation near the end of Saturday's game, with one well-respected L.A.-based journalist saying this wasn't as big an accomplishment for the Heat because the Lakers are struggling so badly.

Well, that isn't fair, is it? You can't play that card and also say that the Heat hasn't beaten very many good teams in its stretch of 14 wins in 15 games. What does the Heat have to do, in that case, to be considered legit? Beat only the Celtics?

The Lakers might have thrown in a clunker against the Bucks on Tuesday, but isn't that all the more incentive for the Lakers to want to beat the Heat? And the Lakers had just won eight of nine before that Bucks loss.

But here were the Lakers, essentially making excuses after the game, complaining about their lack of intensity, etc. Sad kobe

Kobe Bryant said the Lakers are always terrible on Christmas games, Phil Jackson said his team isn't "connected right now." Bryant added that games seem more important to the opponent than it is to them.

Interesting, then, because this was just as much a barometer game for the Lakers as it was for the Heat. It was their first chance to show that it's still L.A., and not the Heat, that is a championship favorite. That seems like some pretty good incentive.

Fact is, this is a very impressive win for Miami, not only because the Heat won in Los Angeles, but because they did it with defense and the rebounding was solid against the bigger Lakers and because all three of the Big Three were effective in so many ways.

It was an impressive display. It would probably feel a little better if the Lakers had a completely healthy Andrew Bynum, because it's that two-headed monster of Bynum and Pau Gasol that is L.A.'s biggest advantage against the Heat, but this is still the Lakers team that started out 8-0 without Bynum.

Chris Bosh has been steady all season, but he's now mixing in the big games more often. He completely outplayed Gasol, and it's encouraging to watch him mix up the jumper and the drive.

LeBron James has been shooting the ball quite well of late, which is scary. He hit 5 of 6 threes Saturday, and he's now shooting 47.5 percent from three-point range in December. Bron three

Interesting that Mike Miller wasn't used until garbage time -- also probably frustrating for him given that he targeted this game for his comeback -- but it kind of makes sense to roll with what was working against a team as capable as the Lakers. You can imagine Miller will be back in the rotation against the Knicks on Tuesday, probably taking minutes from James Jones, who was 1 of 6 from the field, all from three, against the Lakers.

Lastly, if I were Mario Chalmers, I'd be working on my three-point shooting a whole lot from now on. Because apparently he's going to get a ton of those looks.

Since the game in Utah on Dec. 8, Mario is averaging 5.4 three-point attempts a game, including nine attempts Saturday. He made three of them on his way to 13 points, but if he's deadly from out there regularly, he could be a serious spark off the bench.


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