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We Know Drama

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No Shaq (bum knee). No Pat Riley (bum hip). No personal connections to the past on display tonight.

Still, the budding rivalry of Kobe vs. Dwyane Wade is more than plenty when the Lakers and Heat play. The two best shooting-guards in the basketball face off tonight at Staples Center (7 on TNT) in a game with enough juice to make you turn away from the drunken acceptance speeches at the Golden Globes, at least for a minute. We’ll see if there’s enough drama from number 24 to keep you watching instead of flipping over to 24.

Hopefully there will be a little more drama than when the two met on Christmas Day. The Lakers gave the Heat the gift of an easy win. Kobe shot just 23.5% from the floor while Wade shot 60% and finished with 40 points and 11 assists.

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The Heat rely on what is Lakers’ kryptonite -- a simple little play called the pick-and-roll. The Lakers couldn’t defend it 15 years ago when John Stockton and Karl Malone were running it in Utah. Shaq’s inability to defend the play may be his greatest weakness (although free throws are right there, too). The current Lakers defended it like a high school squad on Christmas day.

Tonight the Lakers will get a steady diet of Wade running the pick-and-roll. To counter that the Lakers need Kobe -- who is not 100% because of a sore groin (insert your own joke here) -- to do what he did just a couple nights ago against Orlando by getting his teammates involved early then taking over at the end of the game, if need be.

If it’s just Kobe vs. Wade, it will be quite a show, but if it is the Lakers vs. Wade Los Angeles will get the win. I just hope the Lakers blow the Heat out so I can turn the channel and watch that other 24 without missing too much.

AP photo by Steve Mitchell