Cleveland 111, Miami 104
Studs: LeBron James led his Cavaliers to their second "statement win" in as many days, as the overcame the Heat in Miami. James had 34 points, 4 rebounds, and 7 assists. Sidekick Mo Williams continued his run of solid shooting, going 10-for-15 with 25 points. Dwyane Wade tried his best for the overachieving Heat, posting a game-high 36 points, along with 4 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 blocks. Michael Beasley added a season-high 24 points and 6 rebounds in the loss.
Duds: Miami's Quentin Richardson was 0-for-2 with 2 rebounds and a steal in 27 minutes, and two of the Cavaliers' key reserves, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Daniel Gibson, combined to shoot just 1-for-10.
Game Notes: The game truly sported two of the NBA's best. James and Wade dueled it out shot-for-shot all night long. The Cavs got the win, but the real winners were the fans. Cleveland coach Mike Brown called James's performance "flat-out beautiful", likening his superstar to Pablo Picasso. Wade threw down a monstrous dunk over Anderson Varejao that James called one of the top 10 of all time… J.J. Hickson shot 7-for-9 and posted a career-high 18 points in his third straight start… Wade has now scored 20+ points in a franchise-record 21 straight games… Cavs' rookie Danny Green got his first taste of NBA action.
LA Lakers 121, Phoenix 102
Studs: The Lakers left no question as to who is the best team in the Western Conference after their dismantling of the previously 8-1 Phoenix Suns. Kobe Bryant had a game-high 29 points and Andrew Bynum made a triumphant return with 26 points and 15 rebounds. Lamar Odom added 8 points, 12 rebounds, and 7 assists in just 29 minutes. Jared Dudley was the Suns' leading scorer with 14 and Louis Amundson added 10 points and 9 rebounds (6 offensive).
Duds: The high-flying Suns were stifled by the Lakers' defense, shooting just 36.5% from the field. Their previous season-low had been 45.5%. Amare Stoudemire had a laughable evening, shooting 2-for-15, while Jason Richardson (2-for-9), Goran Dragic (1-for-7), and Alando Tucker (1-for-5) weren't much better.
Game Notes: The Lakers dominated on the interior, scoring 78 points in the paint and shooting 57.6% as a team on their way to 121 points… The Suns' two losses have come against Orlando and the Lakers, last years' NBA Finalists… The Lakers shot a putrid 38.9% from the free throw line, and yes, you read that correctly… The win pulled Zen Master Phil Jackson into a tie with Charlotte's Larry Brown for the 5th most wins all-time, with 1,048.