Los Angeles

Lakers Hang on to Beat the Heat in Dwyane Wade's Final Game in Los Angeles

LeBron James scored 28 points and the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Miami Heat, 108-105, in Dwyane Wade's final game in Los Angeles.

It was over in a Flash. 

LeBron James scored 28 points and the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Miami Heat, 108-105, in Dwyane Wade's final game in Los Angeles.

"There's only one building that could have embraced that moment and that's the Staples Center," said James. "It was a great game and the atmosphere was unbelievable."

The final duel between longtime friends, James and Wade, went to LeBron, as it has for most of their 15-year friendship.

"I didn't even know that we were tied 15-15 coming into today's game," James said talking about the two storied rivals head-to-head record which will finish 16-15 in favor of LeBron. "It's a storybook. We've got great writers here in Hollywood and I don't even know if they'd be able to write this one."

Both teams took turns trading knockout blows down the stretch with Wade and James guarding each other on the team's two possessions. 

"It was how it was supposed to end," said James. "Us matched up for the final two possessions, him guarding me on the one end and I'm guarding him on the other end."

James headed to the free throw line with 22.5 seconds remaining in the game, and the Lakers holding tightly on to a 106-105 lead. 

James made the first of two as Wade sidled up to him before the second.

"Bro, just miss it so I can shoot the game-winner," Wade said he told LeBron after the game. "Me and you. One on one. Just let me shoot it and go for it."

Of course James didn't miss the second, and knowing Wade wanted to go to his left for a stepback, game-tying three on the other end, LeBron clamped down on his friend and forced him to shoot a tough, fadeaway three-pointer that clanked off the backboard, sealing the victory for the Lakers. 

"He knows my tendencies and I know his tendencies," said James. "I knew he likes to go left, he knew it, he was like 'Why the hell did you do that and take away my left?' We've been watching eachother for a long time and we know eachother even better than we know ourselves."

Immediately after the buzzer went off, Wade ran to the baseline to embrace James where they exchanged jerseys and tears on the court.

James and Wade have been friends since they were both taken in the top five of the 2003 NBA Draft. They would later become teammates in Miami between 2010 and 2014 as they won two NBA Titles and appeared in four consecutive Finals.

After the 2016-2017 season, Wade joined James in Cleveland with the Cavs, where they coined the term "peanut butter and jelly" for the duo, before Wade was traded back to Miami in February of this year.

Before the game, James called the game "bittersweet" and said outside of Kobe Bryant, Wade was his favorite player to compete against on the court.

"I just wanted to enjoy the competition for the last time," said Wade.

Wade intends to retire after this season, but that didn't stop him from playing 33 minutes off the bench, finishing with 15 points and 10 assists.

Wade showed flashes of his younger self throughout the game, including driving past Lakers center Tyson Chandler for a layup at the start of the fourth quarter.

"Flash comes out every now and then," joked Chandler of the play. "He's still even at this age one of the top players in the league."

LeBron had some highlight reel moments of his own, including a halfcourt alley-oop pass to Lonzo Ball that put the Lakers in front, 67-65, midway through the third quarter.

James finished with 28 points and 12 assists, and scored in double figures for the 900th consecutive game.  

Kyle Kuzma had a game-high 33 points, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 11 off the bench.

"I've been more aggressive and have more opportunities to score," said Kuzma of his offensive surge. "I'm looking to facilitate opportunities. I got back to a rebounding mindset."

Justice Winslow led the Heat with a team-high, and career-high 28 points off the bench. 

"The ball finds you, but at the same time, I caught myself running after the ball a couple times," said Winslow of how he was able to stay hot. "Staying aggressive and staying with it. Just getting better every day, and it was a lot of fun out there tonight. I just wish we would have got the win."

TIP-INS

Heat: Hassan Whiteside missed his third straight game. He is away from the team for the birth of his child. ... Josh Richardson (right shoulder) started. Tyler Johnson (bruised left hip) was available, but didn't play.

Lakers: Brandon Ingram missed his third straight game with a sprained left ankle. He won't be re-evaluated until Saturday before the Lakers play at Charlotte that night. The wingman is LA's third-leading scorer. ... Rajon Rondo had fluid drained from his right hand Sunday, possibly signaling a delay in his return from a broken hand. The veteran point guard has been out for 3 ½ weeks. ... A star-studded crowd gathered for Wade's final game, including Denzel Washington, Kate Beckinsale, Will Ferrell, Kevin Costner, Jessica Alba and Rams stars Jared Goff and Brandin Cooks.

WADE TRIBUTE VIDEO

Staples Center sent Dwyane Wade out in style with a tribute video during a timeout in the first quarter. 

UP NEXT

Heat: At Jazz on Wednesday.

Lakers: At Rockets on Thursday.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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