Lakers at Miami Heat preview

The Lakers look to avoid a three-game losing streak Wednesday against the Miami Heat

After a three-game winning streak, the Lakers have dropped two in a row.

On Wednesday, they'll look to avoid dropping their third straight when they visit the Miami Heat (26-33).

The Heat recently acquired point guard Goran Dragic from the Phoenix Suns, but also lost Chris Bosh for the season, after he was diagnosed with a blood clot in his lung.

Miami, currently seventh in the Eastern Conference, still hopes to hold onto a playoff position with the Brooklyn Nets (25-33), Charlotte Hornets (25-33), Indiana Pacers (25-34), Boston Celtics (23-35) and Detroit Pistons (23-36) all close enough to threaten.

Dragic has been struggling recently with general soreness.  Tyler Johnson (ankle) has also been hobbled.

For the Lakers, Nick Young (knee) is questionable while Ronnie Price (elbow), Kobe Bryant (shoulder), Julius Randle (knee) and Steve Nash (back) are all done for the season.

Key matchup

Miami center Hassan Whiteside escaped suspension, after an in-game wrestling match on Monday, with Suns center Alex Len.

The 25-year-old 7-footer has been a revelation for the Heat this season, averaging 10.8 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks a game while shooting 63.3% from the field.

Whiteside was originally drafted in the second round (33rd overall) in 2010 by the Sacramento Kings.  Before his 32 games this season, Whiteside played in a total of 19 games in his entire NBA career.

Robert Sacre is expected to start opposite Whiteside at center, with Ed Davis, Jordan Hill and Tarik Black as additional options.

X-factor

If Dragic is able to play, he's an extremely crafty scorer at point guard who also sets up his teammates well.

Johnson is another young find by Miami. On Monday he scored 26 points in as many minutes against the Suns, hitting 10 of 13 shots.

Of course the Heat still have Dwyane Wade, along with veteran forward Luol Deng.

The Lakers have no choice but to heavily rely on the three-guard rotation of Jordan Clarkson, Wayne Ellington and Jeremy Lin. The trio has played well, helping the Lakers win three of their last five.

Outlook

Even short-handed, the Heat have too much to lose.  They can't afford to let the Lakers get a win in Miami, especially with the Lakers coming in on the second night of a back-to-back, after a loss on Tuesday in Charlotte.

Email Eric Pincus at Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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