In a game filled with all kinds of easy story lines (the revenge factor for Kobe Bryant and the Lakers against the nose breaking Dwyane Wade, LeBron James playing against Kobe right after yet another game in which he passed on a chance to win a game for his team), the real story to emerge is that the Los Angeles Lakers still have some fight in those old legs of theirs. In defeating the Heat 93-83, the Lakers played just about the perfect game. Amazing shooting from Kobe Bryant, a front court too big to be stopped, and a feisty defense that held the league's best shooting team a full 10 points under their shooting average.
Oh, and some guy I've never seen before named Metta World Peace. To say that today was MWP's best game since changing his name from Ron Artest would be a significant understatement. Metta hit a bevy of important shots in going for 17 points on 6-10 shooting, including fade aways, three pointers, and the most awkward up and under finger roll you will ever see. His energy on defense was also spectacular, holding LeBron James to a rather Kobe-ian 25 points on 26 shots. Peace picked up 4 steals and a block on top of his already stellar numbers.
The win doesn't re-write the Lakers' season into the book of a championship contender overnight. After all, the Heat were playing without Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade found out just how much karma can suck, fouling out with the last four of his fouls taking place in a 3 minute time span in the 4th quarter. But today's game does provide the opening chapter on how the Lakers might still be in the mix at season's end. It takes a bunch of things going right, some of which nobody has any right to expect on a consistent basis, but for the first time in many months, the Lakers looked like the team they aspire to be.