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Lakers

Lakers-Heat contest may feature battle of the old guard

Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant tries to drive his way around Heat guard Dwyane Wade in the fourth quarter of a game on Jan. 11, 2009.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

The Lakers (1-5) make the third stop on their six-game road trip Tuesday night, playing the Heat (4-3) in Miami.

Miami has Chris Bosh back healthy after the forward sat midway through last season with a pulmonary embolism, and the emergence of center Hassan Whiteside gives the Heat one of the best frontcourts in the NBA.

Meanwhile, the Lakers have been struggling to close out games, winning just once this season -- defeating the Nets (0-7) in Brooklyn.

Miami guard Gerald Green is out with illness, while forward James Ennis is listed as questionable, also due to illness. The Lakers are at full strength.

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Key matchup

How much Dwyane Wade will match up directly against Kobe Bryant remains to be seen.

Miami’s veteran shooting guard is his team’s scorer at 18.9 points a game. Bryant starts at small forward for the Lakers, giving way to Jordan Clarkson at the two.

Wade is shooting 44% from the field and 40% from three-point range this season, much more efficient than Bryant’s 16.5 points a game on 32% and 20.8% shooting, respectively.

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With Bryant likely to retire after this season, this game may well be one of his final two contests against Wade, who has three NBA championships in Miami. Bryant’s ring total is likely to finish at five.

X-factor

The duo of Bosh and Whiteside have combined for an average 31.3 points, 20.6 rebounds and 4.9 blocks a game.

Whiteside is a shot-blocking machine at four a game, helping Miami hold teams to just 90.4 points a game.

The Lakers frontcourt pairing of Roy Hibbert and Julius Randle is a work in progress, but one with great potential.

Hibbert led the Lakers in their Sunday loss to the New York Knicks, with 18 points and 10 rebounds (Bryant also scored 18).

Randle struggled for six points but pulled down 11 boards. Through six games, the second-year forward is averaging 12.7 points and 8.5 rebounds a game.

The Lakers need a big performance from both big men against Miami.

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Outlook

Miami has the personnel to be a playoff contender in the East. The Lakers are near the bottom of the West.

Miami should be able to put the Lakers away for the win.

Email Eric Pincus eric.pincus@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @EricPincus


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