Published December 25, 2013
| Sports Network
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Miami Heat embark on a western road trip, starting with Wednesday's Christmas showdown against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center.
This marquee matchup took a hit last week when it was announced Lakers star guard Kobe Bryant would be out the next six weeks with a broken bone in his knee.
The Heat head into the holiday matchup winners of five straight. They haven't lost since their battle with the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis almost two weeks ago.
Miami pushed the streak to five games with a 121-119 overtime home victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday.
Neither team led by more than a possession in overtime and Miami trailed 119-116 with 1:08 left before Chris Andersen's layup cut its deficit to one. Kyle Korver and Paul Millsap, who combined to shoot 12-of-18 from behind the arc, each missed a 3-point attempt for Atlanta and on the ensuing Heat possession, LeBron James penetrated and dropped a pass off to a slashing Michael Beasley, who drew a foul with 9.2 seconds remaining.
Beasley, who missed the last seven games with a hamstring injury, made both free throws to put the hosts in front by a point. Atlanta had one final look at the basket after Miami took a foul with 2.3 ticks remaining.
After burning its final timeout, rookie big man Pero Antic inbounded from the left sideline and lobbed the ball to the rim for a curling Korver, who caught the heave but failed to get his layup attempt over the rim. Anderson secured the rebound to seal the outcome for Miami.
"Obviously, going through what we experienced last year in the finals, we know its never over," said James. "We just keep fighting until the end, and we were able to force overtime."
James tallied 38 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Dwyane Wade missed his seventh game this season and is considered day-to-day.
Ray Allen, whose free throws forced the extra session, scored 19 points filling in for an injured Wade. Anderson and Beasley netted 12 and 10 points, respectively, off the bench, while Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers scored in double figures.
The Lakers have lost two straight, both on the road.
On Monday, the Phoenix Suns clobbered the Lakers, 117-90. Nick Young led the way for LA with 19 points off the bench, followed by 18 from Jodie Meeks. Xavier Henry managed 13 points and Pau Gasol returned to the lineup from an upper-respiratory infection and chipped in 10 points.
"It is tough," said Young. "We are all competitive. We all want to win. We know how important it is in the Western Conference; every game counts."
The Lakers head to Utah on Friday, then play four straight in the Staples Center.
The Heat, who will visit Sacramento, Portland and Denver on this sojourn, have won six of the last seven meetings with the Lakers. Miami has taken two of three as the visitor, but LA has won six of eight at home against the Heat.