Tonight at 10:30 EST, the Los Angeles Lakers will host the Miami Heat at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The Heat will play in the Staples Center again on Sunday, in their lone visiting contest against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Miami is just getting to the midway part of their six-game west coast roadtrip. It started on Tuesday with a 99-90 loss to the Phoenix Suns and a 107-102 win on Wednesday against the Sacramento Kings. After tonight and their game with the Clippers Sunday, they’ll visit the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday and the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday before going home for eight of their next 10 games.
The Lakers won two of five at home before taking a quick on-game road trip last night against the Portland Trail Blazers. Tonight is their first game of a three-game homestand, which will continue on Sunday against the San Antonio Spurs and conclude on Tuesday against the Blazers again.
The last time that Miami played the Lakers was just two weeks ago in Miami, on December 22nd. Miami defeated the Lakers 115-107 that day to improve to 10-20 on the season, and drop the Lakers to 11-21. Miami was led by 23 points and 13 rebounds apiece by Hassan Whiteside and Justise Winslow. Goran Dragic added 21 with seven assists, and James Johnson added 19 points, eight boards, and six rebounds off the bench. The Lakers were led by Lou Williams’ 27 points off the bench. Nick Young scored 20, and D’Angelo Russell had 17 with seven assists.
In Miami’s last game, the Heat defeated the Sacramento Kings, 107-102. Tyler Johnson led the Heat with 23 points on seven-of-11 shooting, with six rebounds. Goran Dragic scored 19 with seven assists, and James Johnson added 14 with six boards and six helpers. The Kings had seven players in double figures, (Garrett Temple 15, Arron Afflalo 15, Ty Lawson 15, Anthony Tolliver 14, DeMarcus Cousins 13, Matt Barnes 12, Darren Collison 10), but nobody scored more than 15.
Last night, the Lakers played the Blazers.
GameTime: 10:30 EST, Staples Center
All-Time Head-to-Head: Los Angeles owns a 31-26 edge in head-to-head action against the Heat. Miami’s .456 win percentage against the Lakers is their 22nd best.
Miami Heat: 11-26, .297, on pace for a 24-58 record. Fifth place in the Southeast Division, 13th place in the Eastern Conference, 28th in the NBA.
Los Angeles Lakers: 13-25, .342. on pace for a 28-54 record. Fourth place in the Pacific Division, 12th in the Pacific Conference, 24th in the NBA.
Miami Heat: Miami continues to miss a starting lineup worth of players. Justise Winslow is out for the season due to a torn labrum in his right shoulder. He is recovering from a surgical procedure on Thursday. Hassan Whiteside is out with an eye injury until at least January 8th. Dion Waiters is back, and should see between 15 and 20 minutes on the court. Of course, Chris Bosh remains out for the season.
Los Angeles Lakers: Larry Nance Jr. will be out until next month with a knee injury. Jordan Clarkson (elbow) and Luol Deng (biceps) are game time decisions.
Predicting a starting lineup for the Heat is a fools’ errand. Coach Erik Spoelstra has fielded 37 different starting five in 37 games this season. As of the time I’m writing this, the most likely starting lineup follows.
PG - Goran Dragic (Tyler Johnson)
SG - Josh Richardson (Tyler Johnson)
C - Willie Reed (Udonis Haslem)
PF - Luke Babbitt (Derrick Williams)
SF - Rodney McGruder (James Johnson)
Los Angeles Lakers
PG - D’Angelo Russell (Lou Williams)
SG - Nick Young (Jose Calderon)
C - Timofey Mozgov (Tarik Black)
PF - Julius Randle (Thomas Robinson)
SF - Brandon Ingram
The Johnson’s combine for 35 points off the bench, making half or better of their three-point attempts. Goran Dragic gets a double-double with points and assists. Miami wins by less than 10 points.