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Preview: Lakers vs. Charlotte Bobcats

The Lakers (16-30) look to end a five-game losing streak on Friday night when they host the Charlotte Bobcats (20-27) at Staples Center.

Charlotte is currently in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, but barely. The New York Knicks (19-27) have won four straight.  The Bobcats are still waiting to get point guard Kemba Walker back from an ankle injury.

The Lakers won in Charlotte earlier in the season during Kobe Bryant's brief six-game run after recovering from his Achilles injury but before he fractured his knee.

Once again, the Lakers will play without Steve Nash (back) and Steve Blake (elbow), Jordan Farmar (hamstring), Xavier Henry (knee) and Bryant.

Henry and Bryant are still weeks away, but the three point guards could return when the Lakers play next week.

Key matchup

Charlotte has an old-school post player in Al Jefferson.

The 6-foot-10 center is leading the Bobcats at 19.3 points and 10.5 rebounds a game.

The Lakers counter with seven-footer Pau Gasol, in what should be a nice battle down low.

Gasol got the best of Jefferson late in the Lakers' 88-85 victory in Charlotte on Dec. 14. He finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and six turnovers -- but his four blocked shots were instrumental to the win.

Jefferson finished with 14 points and nine rebounds.

X-factor

Ramon Sessions was briefly a Laker. After a midseason trade in March 2012, Sessions opted out of his contract in June.

When July hit, the Lakers acquired Steve Nash from the Phoenix Suns. Nash has spent most of his Lakers' tenure injured.

Meanwhile, Sessions signed with the Bobcats. This season he's averaging 10.8 points and 3.5 assists a game while shooting 40.5% from the field.

Sessions doesn't have much of an outside shot. This year, he's been terrible from distances, hitting just 18.6% from behind the arc.

With Walker still out, Sessions has a bigger role for the Bobcats.

Though Lakers could get Nash, Farmar and Blake back next week, Kendall Marshall will get his 15th start of the season Friday.

Marshall has proved to be a capable playmaker and outside shooter, although his defense leaves a lot to be desired and the Lakers haven't exactly thrived with the second-year player at the point.

Outlook

The Lakers have a real shot to break their losing streak when they play the Bobcats -- especially without Walker, who scored 24 points with eight assists on 10-of-13 shooting when the teams met in December.

ALSO:

Pau Gasol says he's probable Friday, despite groin injury

With Kobe Bryant ailing, Lakers to be absent from All-Star game

Kendall Marshall set to match Steve Blake with 15 starts at point

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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