(Reuters) – LeBron James scored a season-high 39 points to help the Miami Heat survive a late rally from the Lakers and post a 99-90 win in Los Angeles on Thursday.
Just hours after being pipped by the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant as the leading vote getter for the 2013 All Star game, James outplayed his rival comprehensively, adding eight assists and seven rebounds to his points haul.
“It was very important for us,” James told reporters.
“We want to continue to get better and we wanted to finish this road trip on the right foot. We played some good ball tonight and it’s a good win.”
The Heat won three and lost three of a six-game road trip that ended on Thursday.
“Turnovers killed us,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni admitted.
“It’s disappointing. I thought we played well enough to beat them. Obviously you have got to marvel at what LeBron did but at the same time we had 16 turnovers in the first half and that led to a lot of points.”
Bryant was kept quiet in the opening three quarters, making just three of 16 from the floor, allowing Miami to build an eight point lead.
But Bryant came alive in the fourth to help tie the score at 90-90 inside the final three minutes, only for the NBA champions to pull away again thanks to some clutch Ray Allen buckets.
Miami moved to 26-12 with the win while the Lakers dropped to 17-22 on the season.
Miami’s Dwyane Wade added 27 points on his 31st birthday while Bryant had a team-high 22 for LA.