MIAMI - The first chore for the Miami Heat is done: They're in the playoffs.
That’s no surprise.
Snapping a five-game slide by beating the NBA’s hottest team to get there, well, that might not have been what everyone saw coming.
Chris Bosh scored 24 points, Dwyane Wade added eight of his 20 in the fourth quarter, and the Heat ended its losing streak by beating the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers, 94-88, on Thursday night, the earliest Miami has secured a postseason bid in franchise history.
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LeBron James finished with 19 points, nine assists and eight rebounds for the Heat, and Mike Miller scored 12 for Miami.
Kobe Bryant scored 24 points for the Lakers, whose eight-game winning streak was snapped, and Pau Gasol added 20.
Bryant’s 3-pointer with 2:26 left tied the game for the last time at 88. James’ dunk a minute later, followed by Wade’s layup got Miami a four-point edge with 46 seconds left. Two James free throws sealed the deal.
“We knew this game was going to come down to the end ... We had to figure out a way and find a way, and we did that,” Wade said.
There were 10 ties, 10 lead changes in the first half, and both held five-point leads at some point before the Heat took a 55-53 halftime edge.
Dreaded vote of confidence: Heat President Pat Riley is giving coach Erik Spoelstra a vote of confidence, even with the team mired in its roughest stretch of the season. In an interview with The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., Riley dismissed any notion of Spoelstra being on shaky ground as “the media being neurotic.” Riley made the remarks on Wednesday while attending the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden. Miami snapped a five-game skid Thursday with a 94-88 victory over the visiting Los Angeles Lakers.
Club drops LeBron suit: An Atlanta nightclub has dismissed a lawsuit against Heat star LeBron James. The Opera nightclub had filed a complaint Monday in Fulton County Superior Court accusing James of canceling a March 17 appearance for which he was supposed to be paid $25,000. Opera nightclub attorney Yasha Heidari would not disclose the terms of the settlement but said Opera looks forward to a James appearance in the future.
Belinelli fined for hit: The NBA fined Hornets guard Marco Belinelli $10,000 for his flagrant foul on Shawn Marion during New Orleans’ 93-92 victory over the Dallas Mavericks a night earlier.