MIAMI (AP) – Growing up, Dwyane Wade was always around a television when it was time for the NBA’s annual Christmas game telecast.

“You always watched,” Wade said, “because something exciting always happened.”

He wasn’t watching on Monday – because he was the one providing the excitement.

Wade dismissed all pregame suggestions that his Christmas would be a 1-on-1 showdown against Kobe Bryant, then turned the matchup of two of the NBA’s best scorers into a one-sided battle. He had 40 points and 11 assists, leading Miami to a 101-85 win over the Los Angeles Lakers – the third straight Christmas win for the Heat in the series.

“Makes it great, man, makes it great,” Wade said. “To be playing on Christmas is great. … And we can go home and continue enjoying Christmas Day knowing that you played an unbelievable game, knowing that your team played well and that you got a win. Ain’t too many things better than that.”

Wade made 12 of 20 shots from the floor, 15 of 16 from the line, and got a huge ovation from another sellout Miami crowd when leaving with 57.9 seconds remaining.

The praise kept coming postgame, too.

“An outrageous night,” Heat coach Pat Riley said.

“Flash, man,” Heat forward Dorell Wright said. “That boy’s got something.”

“Pretty entertaining to watch,” added Heat center Alonzo Mourning. “He’s a special player.”

Meanwhile, Bryant – who entered the game as the sixth-leading scorer in the league at 27.8 points – never got rolling. He missed his first six shots, finished 4-of-17 from the floor and with 16 points, one over his season-low.

“You have to let it go,” Bryant said. “It was disappointing, but we have two more games on this trip. It’s a long season. We are 18-10. Now it is time to move on.”

Jason Kapono had 11 points and Wright added 10 for the Heat, who won for the fourth time in five games.

Ronny Turiaf had 13 points and Luke Walton added 10 for the Lakers.

“I told my coaches at halftime that I thought I would stay in the locker room and watch ‘A Christmas Carol’ and they could go out and do the rest of this game the way we were playing out there,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “I did not feel we were right from the opening tap in this game.”

This Christmas meeting lacked the hype of the previous two, where the reunions of teammates-turned-rivals Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal created no shortage of interesting storylines.

But the feud between the two thawed last year, and O’Neal wasn’t in this game. The Heat center – who’s appeared in only four games this season – missed his 21st consecutive contest as he continues to recover from knee surgery.

Even without him, Miami has won a season-best four straight at home and is back to within a game of .500 at 13-14.

“To win this game was big,” Heat forward Antoine Walker said. “It’s good for the whole team, for Dwyane, for Shaq.”

He told us before the game he really wanted us to win this game.”

O’Neal pulled Wade aside for a pregame chat, delivering another pregame message to the star guard.

“I told him just go out and play your game and mix it up,” O’Neal said. “And he did that. That’s why he’s the best.”

The Heat led 30-16 after one quarter. Wade had 12 points, five assists and three blocks in the period, while Bryant was 0-for-6 from the floor with as many turnovers (2) as points.

Wright – who grew up in Los Angeles and got his chance to face the Lakers for the first time, after sitting out the four meetings between the clubs in his first two NBA seasons – had two dunks and a jumper in a 56-second span midway through the quarter, helping Miami build a quick 17-8 lead.

But Wright’s biggest contribution came on defense. He thought Wade would guard Bryant, a fib Riley told so Wright wouldn’t be nervous coming to work on Monday. Wright got word that he’d be the one starting against Bryant about two hours before gametime.

“I think I did decent,” Wright said. “To stop him, you hope he misses shots. … He’s a scorer. If anyone can score 81 points in the NBA, they’re going to be aggressive anytime.”

The Lakers got to 53-48 early in the third, before Wade keyed an 11-4 run over the next 2 minutes to restore a 12-point lead. Miami pushed the lead to 16 late in the third, but the Lakers scored six points in the final 46.4 seconds of the period, then Vladimir Radmanovic’s basket made it 74-66 early in the fourth.

The Heat, though, scored the next six points to restore a 14-point cushion and held on from there.

“I don’t think we had many hiccups at all over the course of the game,” Riley said. “And if we had them, we corrected them quickly.”

Notes: The Heat outrebounded the Lakers 45-31. … Miami is 27-28 without O’Neal since acquiring him in July 2004. … The Lakers, who were 12-for-24 from 3-point range Friday against New Jersey, missed 14 of their first 15 tries from behind the arc. … A Heat fan will soon be getting a special prize from the team – the same championship ring worn by players. The Heat have been selling raffle tickets since the season began, raising money for charity, and drew the winning name Monday.

AP-ES-12-25-06 1837EST

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