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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, January 23rd (All times Eastern)

Los Angeles Lakers (16-26) at Miami Heat (30-12), 8 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - When the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers used to play, it was must-see TV.

Nowadays, it's not quite the same.

Yes, there will still be anticipation Thursday night when the Lakers visit the two-time defending NBA champs, but the matchup has lost some of its cache.

Kobe Bryant is not in the lineup for the Lakers, battling a broken bone in his knee. He's scheduled for further evaluation when LA gets home after this seven-game road trip, where it is 2-2 so far.

Even Steve Nash is gone and before the rash of injuries last season, the Lakers weren't the same old Lakers.

The Heat have been fine, but not great of late.

They've won three of four, but lost four of seven and their 93-86 victory over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday showed some signs of greatness, but also some signs of fatigue.

The Heat led by as many as 18 in the first half, but trailed by two in the fourth quarter before LeBron James netted seven of the game's last nine points.

James scored 11 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter and also grabbed eight boards and dished out four assists for Miami, which was coming off a 2-4 road trip.

"Versus a team like this they're going to bring a lot of energy and effort and you have to match that," James said. "We were ready for anything tonight."

Dwyane Wade got the night off and Chris Bosh (16) and Chris Anderson (13) were the Heat's only other double-figure scorers besides James.

Miami shot 51.4 percent from the field and held Boston under 40 percent.

The Lakers had a two-game winning streak snapped in Chicago on Monday night. They fell 102-100 in overtime as they are out on their long Grammy trip, which still has stops in Orlando and New York.

Taj Gibson had less than a second to get a shot off and barely beat the overtime buzzer with a layup off an inbounds pass from Mike Dunleavy.

"I was looking at the backboard hoping it would go red before it left his hand," hoped Nick Young.

Young became the first Lakers player to eclipse the 30-point mark this season, but his 31 weren't enough to earn Los Angeles a third straight win. Pau Gasol finished with 20 points, 19 boards and five blocks in the setback.

Jodie Meeks added 16 points and Ryan Kelly chipped in 13.

The Heat beat the Lakers on Christmas Day at the Staples Center and have won three in a row in this series. LA has dropped five in a row in South Beach and its last victory in Miami came on Feb. 10, 2008.

01/23 10:31:14 ET

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BAL 4
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6th
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