When the Lakers play the Miami Heat on Monday at Staples Center, LeBron James will face one of his closest friends, Dwyane Wade, for perhaps the final time in an NBA game.
“It’s bitter and it’s sweet,” James said. “It’s sweet and sour. The sweet part about it is I’ve always loved being on the same floor with my brother. We struck up a relationship together at the combine in 2003 and it started from there. And the sour part about it is that this is our last time sharing the same court.”
Wade, who was drafted four picks after James went No. 1 in 2003, announced this will be his last season. The two teamed up to win a pair of championships in Miami with Chris Bosh, the No. 4 pick in 2003, when James left Cleveland for the first time in 2010.
“I got to keep it going,” James said. “I got to keep it going for the class of ’03, that’s for sure. So I love where I’m at right now and D-Wade has definitely had a hell of a career, obviously. A first-ballot Hall of Famer, a three-time champion and so on and so on. I mean it speaks for itself. But what he’s done for that franchise and what he’s done for that community since he’s been drafted has been a pretty good story.”
Wade is older than anyone in the Lakers locker room, but the closest in age is Tyson Chandler, who at 36 is nine months younger than Wade.
“The older I get and the more I’m in the game, I gain even that much more respect for these guys — the legends that we’re starting to lose along the way,” Chandler said. “Guys that mean so much to our generation. I had some crazy competitive games against Dwyane Wade over the years. He’s a legend in our game. It’s always tough when you know they’re losing, but you just embrace the moment. You cherish every moment you get to compete against those type of competitors.”
Kuzma’s extra effort
James’ and Kyle Kuzma’s chemistry was on display again Saturday night in a 111-88 victory in Memphis. More and more, as Kuzma prioritizes making the right pass when he has the ball, he’s looking for James as much as James is looking for him.
“Started a little sticky early in the game, but as soon as Kuzma started making the extra pass, it got contagious and everyone else did,” coach Luke Walton said.
Kuzma is shooting only 31.5% from three-point range, but Saturday night he made half of his eight attempts. In four of the last five games, he’s shot better than his average.
“I’m gonna shoot till I get hot, regardless of 0 for 8, for eight, it doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “I’m gonna keep shooting.”
Mykhailiuk steps up
Rookie Svi Mykhailiuk scored a career-high 11 points in 23 minutes against the Grizzlies and has played double-digit minutes in each of the last three games.
“He did a nice job of hitting some shots in the last game and he did it again tonight,” Walton said. “So he’s earning some more of those rotational minutes.”
When: 7:30 p.m., Monday
On Air: Spectrum SportsNet, NBA TV; Radio: 570, 1330
Update: The teams met Nov. 18 when LeBron James scored 51 points in a 113-97 win, his first in Miami since departing the franchise in 2014. The Heat have injury problems with Dion Waiters (ankle) out indefinitely and Tyler Johnson (hip contusion) questionable.
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli