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Heat vs Lakers Pick for January 17th

It was only fitting that Lebron became the youngest player in NBA history to tally 20,000 points and he did it in a game an in a manner that befits his tremendously balanced and unique game. He notched 25 points, but also pulled down 10 rebounds and dished out seven assists in a nice road win over Golden State. Get used to milestones and accolades and Lebron James in the same sentence over the next seven or eight years and nearly every record in the book could be well within King James’ crosshairs before he finally hangs them up.

The Heat weren’t the only top team to assert their dominance last night. The Western powers reminded some of the “hopefuls” who was in charge. Both San Antonio and Oklahoma City tallied 20-point wins, defeating the Grizzlies and Nuggets respectively. Along with the Clippers whoppin’ of Memphis earlier this week, it is clear the West is a three-team race.

Once upon a time, just a few short months ago, it was perceived the West was a three team race, only with a different Los Angeles team in the mix. The Lakers. Let’s take a glance at things in LA with tonight’s pick.

Miami Heat at Los Angeles Lakers -2 (Total: 206)

So what do you do when the two most unpredictable and fickle teams in the NBA square off in one of the most anticipated regular season games of the season?

It will be an interesting game to be sure. Miami is fresh off an impressive road win at suddenly-slumping Golden State. The Lakers, who according to Caoch D’Antoni, season started the this weekend, are suddenly on a two-game winning streak and Kobe Bryant is playing defense like he discovered a hot-tub time machine. How good was Kobe on defense Monday? Bucks guard Brandon Jennings (reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week) called it the ‘best defense anyone had played on him since entering the league.’

It may be a little rosy, but I expect Kobe to keep it up tonight and frustrate and already frustrated Dwyane Wade. The Lakers don’t have much of an answer for Lebron, but then again, who does? The Heat also do not have an answer for what SHOULD be one of the best frontcourts ever to play, Dwight Howard and Pao Gasol (who is expected to return tonight). Miami has struggled this season with big frontcourts, which makes sense when you consider Chris Bosh (5 rebounds per game) has spent most of his time playing the five.

Obviously Miami is the better team. But playing the second game on the road against a quality opponent in as many nights, especially on the West Coast, is a LOT to ask of a team. I think the back-to-back west coasters get to them tonight and the Lakers get the hype machine rolling again with a third straight win.

Free Pick: Los Angeles Lakers -2