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MIAMI (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – The Miami Heat’s re-vamped roster is still working out the kinks and now they’ll face one of the biggest names in the league.
The Kobe Bryant farewell tour hits Miami on Tuesday when the Los Angeles Lakers visit the Heat.
Bryant has yet to formally announce that this will be the final season of his Hall of Fame career, but the former superstar has been treated to cheers on a nightly basis from road fans believing it will be their last chance to see him in person.
Bryant was cheered wildly in a 99-95 loss at the New York Knicks on Sunday and heard “M-V-P” chants at the free throw line.
“Just. … I don’t know,” Bryant responded to reporters when asked how it felt. “I wouldn’t say nostalgic or anything like that. I just felt appreciative playing in such a historic building all these years.”
Bryant’s game is slipping with his age and he now has to face a Miami defense that held the Toronto Raptors to 39.4 percent shooting in a 96-76 win on Sunday.
Hassan Whiteside blocked six shots in the win as the Heat held their fifth straight opponent to 92 or fewer points.
TV: 7:30 p.m. TWC SportsNet (Los Angeles), Sun Sports (Miami)
ABOUT THE LAKERS (1-5): Los Angeles heads to Orlando on Wednesday for a back-to-back, and the 37-year-old Bryant wants to play in both of the contests.
“His feeling was: ‘You know, Coach, this might be my last year. So if possible, I’d like to try to play every game,’ ” Lakers coach Byron Scott told reporters. “So I’m with that with him, and we’ll see how that plays out.”
Bryant’s continued presence in the lineup is not doing much to help the team in the win column, and he is averaging 16.5 points on a career-low 32 percent from the field.
ABOUT THE HEAT (4-3): Whiteside anchors the defense and recorded at least four blocked shots in each of the last four games, culminating in a 20-point, 11-rebound, six-block performance in 25 minutes against the Raptors.
The 26-year-old center is shooting 63.9 percent from the field and hauled in double-digit rebounds in four of the last five contests.
Whiteside’s presence in the middle frees Chris Bosh up to move outside on occasion, and the veteran forward knocked down 4-of-7 from 3-point range on Sunday.
- Heat G Gerald Green (illness) was reportedly released from the hospital and is questionable to return to the lineup.
- Los Angeles C Roy Hibbert recorded a season-high 18 points on Sunday to go along with 10 rebounds.
- Miami has won the last six in the series and took the two meetings last season by a total of nine points.
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