LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Lakers missed having Kobe Bryant out on the court on Christmas Day. Same for LeBron James.
Playing without its biggest star, Los Angeles stayed right with the Miami Heat for most of the day before slipping to a 101-95 loss against the defending NBA champions on Wednesday.
Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade had 23 points apiece, and James added 19 in the Heat’s sixth straight win. Bosh grabbed 11 rebounds and Ray Allen made four 3-pointers for 12 points, helping Miami improve to 5-0 against the Lakers on Christmas.
“I knew we would get a good game out of them, and I think the NBA wanted a good game,” James said, noting the blowout results of the first two games on the league’s holiday schedule.
Bryant was relegated to the sideline with his fractured left knee, leaving him unable to extend his NBA record for Christmas Day appearances to 16.
“It’s not as special when Kobe’s not out there,” said James, who shared a post-game hug with Bryant.
Streaky reserve Nick Young scored 20 points for the Lakers, who tied the score four times in the fourth quarter. Jodie Meeks added 17 points, Xavier Henry had 14 and Pau Gasol added 13 points and 13 rebounds.
Miami shot 51 percent from the field while improving to 7-0 against the Western Conference this season. It was the Heat’s 19th straight win overall against Western Conference opponents.
Bosh scored 13 of his 23 points in the first half, when Miami trailed 27-21 after the first quarter.
“I just made an effort to get to the basket a little more,” he said. “We just kept wearing on them offensively. They made some tough shots.”
Los Angeles shot 42 percent in its third straight loss. The Lakers were 14 of 36 from 3-point range as they tried to go over the top to beat the Heat’s rugged interior.
“Teams will try to get us moving and play out of our rotations,” Heat coach Eric Spoelstra said. “Early on they were getting some wide-open ones. Some of those Nick Young hit were tough.”
Thunder 123, Knicks 94
In New York, Kevin Durant scored 29 points and Russell Westbrook had a triple-double by the middle of the third quarter as Oklahoma City rolled past the Knicks, who played without Carmelo Anthony.
The Durant-Anthony showdown between the NBA’s top two scorers was canceled because of Anthony’s sprained left ankle, so the Thunder had the Christmas spotlight to themselves while winning for the 10th time in 11 games. The 29-point victory was the largest for a road team on Christmas.
Rockets 111, Spurs 98
In San Antonio, James Harden scored 28 points and Dwight Howard had 15 points and 20 rebounds, leading Houston to a win over the Spurs.
Each of the Rockets’ starters scored in double figures to help Houston improve to 2-0 against San Antonio this season. Chandler Parsons and Terrence Jones each scored 21 points, and Jeremy Lin had 13 points, eight assists and only one turnover.
Bulls 95, Nets 78
In New York, Taj Gibson scored 20 points and Jimmy Butler added 15 for Chicago.
Butler keyed a 21-5 run that gave the Bulls control in the third quarter.
Warriors 105, Clippers 103
In Oakland, Klay Thompson blocked a shot by Chris Paul with 1 second left, then contested Jamal Crawford’s 3-pointer that fell short at the final buzzer, and Golden State held off Los Angeles in a game that featured a pair of ejections.
The Clippers’ Blake Griffin was ejected for his second technical with 10:43 remaining after scuffling with Andrew Bogut, following Golden State’s Draymond Green to the showers after they got into it at the end of the third. Green was tossed for a flagrant 2 foul.