MIAMI - Then, in a flash, all was not well with the Lakers.
After pulling out a few uninspiring victories against some even more uninspiring teams back home, the Lakers began a second-straight East Coast trip on a low note.
This time it was Dwyane Wade and the previously struggling Miami Heat knocking them off of their stride, beating the Lakers 89-87 Friday night in front of a sellout crowd at American Airlines Arena.
And typically, it was Wade doing much of the damage.
The NBA's scoring leader had 35 points on 13-of-25 shooting Friday night, his 11th 30-point game of the season.
The Lakers closed the gap to one point on Pau Gasol's free throw with eight seconds remaining in the game, and had a chance to tie the game at the end of regulation, but Kobe Bryant's fall-away jumper rattled around the basket and popped out to end the game.
"I thought it was in," said Bryant, who had a team high 28 points.
"Even when it rattled around, I thought it was going to fall. It just didn't happen."
Had it gone in the Lakers would've sent the game to overtime and earned a chance to improve their record to 22-3, despite scoring a season-low in points.
Instead the Lakers (21-4) must head to Orlando for a game tonight against the team with a record (20-6) that would immediately make them the second-best team in the Western Conference.
But perhaps more importantly, had Bryant's shot gone in, and the Lakers continued their fourth-quarter surge into overtime and escaped with a win, they also would've probably escaped having to answer questions about their wretched free throw shooting (10 of 19) Friday night, their 21 turnovers, and their inability to get Andrew Bynum involved in a game against a team that starts a 6-foot-8 player (Udonis Haslem) at power forward and an unheralded second-year free agent named Joel Anthony at center.
"That's mental," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "It's about focusing and mentally getting there and shooting the ball. I don't know what that was about tonight.
"In the second, Pau (Gasol) missed a couple. Lamar (Odom) missed a couple. Those are like turnovers when those happen."