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Lakers vs. Heat preview: Can the Lakers beat the Heat?

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Can the Lakers knock off this struggling former contender from Miami?

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers have demonstrated they are a bad team this season, winning just 12 of their 38 games. As miserable as this is for fans of the purple and gold, it is at least not as precipitous of a drop as their Tuesday opponent has faced. The Miami Heat and their fans have experienced a lot of highs over the past four years, representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals the last four seasons and winning twice. This season, the team is struggling after the departure of LeBron James, with their 16-21 record only four wins better than what is one of the worst Lakers teams of all time.

The Heat have suffered their fair share of injuries this season, with Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and newcomer Luol Deng all missing several games with various maladies, but all appear ready to go against Los Angeles. This is bad news for the Lakers, as that trio boasts an average of plus 1.4 points per 100 possessions in 411 total minutes according to NBA.com. This is obviously not what they were hoping for, but outscoring the opposition is better than not for a team still in the hunt for a playoff spot (currently holding on to the 7th seed) in the Eastern Conference.

No word on whether or not Kobe Bryant will play, but with or without the Mamba, the Lakers will not be favored in this contest. The Miami Heat may have cooled down from their heydays of the last four years, but they boast an matchup advantage at arguably every starting position, and head man Erik Spoelstra has proven himself to be a better tactician and coach than the Lakers' Byron Scott. If the Lakers want to secure a win, it will require something unexpected, like a slump-busting performance from Nick Young, a Linsanity redux, or more Black magic from Tarik Black off the bench.

The only way to know if they will get any of these things or some other unexpected factor is to watch. Enjoy the game everyone.

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Station: TWCSN