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PreHeat: Miami Heat (22-9) @ L.A. Lakers (21-8) in Xmas showdown

  • The first true test at home for the Los Angeles Lakers who have had the easiest schedule so far of any NBA team. The average winning % of their opponents is just .410 while the Heat's opponents are at .484. Lakers home schedule so far has seen them play the Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies, Toronto Raptors, Portland Trailblazers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Phoenix Suns, Warriors again, Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings and the Washington Wizards.
  • Dwyane Wade intends to play though he remains hobbled after knocking his knee against Jason Kidd against the Mavs on Monday night. "There’s still swelling," he said. "It doesn’t feel great, but it feels better than yesterday."
  • Almost a month ago to this day, the Lakers were at 12-2 and coach Phil Jackson speculated on Erik Spoelstra's job security as the Heat were only 8-6. Since then the Heat has gone 14-3 and the Lakers are 9-6 including a 98-79 loss in their last game at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks who were missing Brandon Jennings and Corey Maggette with a frustrated Kobe Bryant ejected in the fourth quarter. Shortly after Jackson's comments, the Lakers promptly went on a four game losing streak against the Utah Jazz, Pacers, Grizzlies and Rockets. Karma's a bitch, right Jackson?
  • With so many questions over whether the Heat can beat the best teams in the NBA the Lakers simply have not been tested in that category. The Heat are only the second +.500 team that the Lakers have faced this month (along with a previous loss to the Chicago Bulls). The Lakers have not played the San Antonio Spurs (their next opponent), Orlando Magic, Dallas Mavericks, Boston Celtics, Atlanta Hawks, Oklahoma City Thunder and the New Orleans Hornets. Yet, only a game separates the records between the reigning champs and the Heat.
Probable Heat starters: Carlos Arroyo, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Zydrunas Ilgauskas Probable Lakers starters: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol

Tipoff: 5 p.m., Staples Center, Los Angeles.

TV: ABC. Radio: WAXY (790-AM), WQBA (1140-AM, Spanish)