Miami Heat at Los Angeles Lakers (-2.5, 205)
LeBron James is fresh off becoming the youngest player in NBA history to reach 20,000 career points as he leads the Miami Heat into Thursday’s contest against the host Los Angeles Lakers. James had 25 points and 10 rebounds in Wednesday’s 92-75 victory over the Golden State Warriors. The superstar reached the milestone at 28 years, 17 days old. The previous fastest was Kobe Bryant of the Lakers, who did it at 29 years and 122 days.
Los Angeles has a modest two-game winning streak after losing its previous six contests. The Lakers won games over the Cleveland Cavaliers and Milwaukee Bucks by a combined 36 points. In his second game back from a shoulder injury, center Dwight Howard contributed 31 points and 16 rebounds in Tuesday’s win over the Bucks. Miami is 2-3 on a six-game road swing that ends against the Lakers. The Heat return for two home games and then head right back out for four more road tilts.
10:30 p.m. ET, TNTABOUT THE HEAT (25-12, 18-19 ATS):
James also reached 5,000 career assists in the contest against the Warriors. In terms of games played, James reached 20,000 points in 726 regular-season contests, which is seventh-fastest. Wilt Chamberlain was the fastest on that scale, making it in 499 games. Nonetheless, James was thrilled about being the youngest ever to reach the milestone. “It means everything,” James said. “It means a lot. First of all, like I continue to say, it means I’ve been able to be healthy. To be out on the floor and do what I love to do, I love the game of basketball and I try to give everything to the game. And hopefully it continues to give back to me.”ABOUT THE LAKERS (17-21, 16-21-1 ATS):
Forward Pau Gasol is expected to return after missing five straight games due to a concussion. Gasol has begun making significant progress and would have to be cleared by doctors on Thursday before he could take the court. “It’s been a learning experience,” Gasol said after Wednesday’s practice. “The struggling of getting up every day and not getting better, constant headaches, being bothered by light or noise and not knowing what the next day will be like or not knowing when you’ll be healthy. You do a little research about concussions and it’s an unfortunate hit, but those can happen any day or any game.”TRENDS:
* Heat are 0-5 ATS in their last five games following a win.
* Lakers are 0-3-1 ATS in their last four vs. NBA Southeast foes.
* Under is 4-0 in Lakers’ last four overall.
* Heat are 7-1 ATS in the last eight meetings.BUZZER BEATERS:
1. The Lakers are 9-4 against Miami in games played at the Staples Center.
2. The Heat are allowing just 85.4 points over their last seven outings.
3. Lakers F Earl Clark is questionable due to a bout with gastroenteritis.