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Preview: Lakers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

The Lakers have an opportunity to end their four-game losing streak when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers (13-24) Tuesday night.

The Cavaliers are another sub-.500 Eastern Conference team but the Lakers recently fell to the Milwaukee Bucks (7-30) and Philadelphia 76ers (12-25) at Staples Center.

With a plethora of injuries, the Lakers have shown they can lose to just about any team.

Add Pau Gasol to the list of walking wounded. The team's forward/center is a game-time decision with a toe injury.

The Lakers will also play without Kobe Bryant (knee), Steve Nash (back), Steve Blake (elbow), Jordan Farmar (hamstring) and Xavier Henry (knee).

The Cavaliers have a lot of talent but have struggled for consistency this season. The team is hoping Luol Deng, recently acquired in a trade with the Chicago Bulls, will help them climb into the top eight in the East.

Key matchup

Kyrie Irving is one of the league's most dynamic point guards.

He's averaging 21.7 points and 6.1 assists per game -- at a position where the Lakers have minimal depth.

Kendall Marshall has played well for the Lakers, averaging a double-double with 13.6 points, 11.2 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game in five starts. He's shooting 46.4% from the field and 43.5% from three-point range over that stretch.

Just a few weeks ago, Marshall was in the NBA Development League. Matching up against Irving should prove to be a challenge.

X-factor

Deng has played just two games for the Cavaliers, averaging 11 points a game.

On the season, Deng has shown he's capable of a lot more, notching 18.4 points through 23 games with the Bulls.

The Cavaliers don't necessarily have a dominant secondary scorer but Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, C.J. Miles, Jarrett Jack and Anderson Varejao are averaging between 8.3 and 14.8 points a game.

When healthy, the Lakers had one of the highest-scoring benches. Now it's basically Nick Young, the team's leading scorer at 16.3 points a game.

Outlook

Under normal circumstances, the Lakers should be the favorite over the Cavaliers at home.

With injuries derailing what was a promising start to the season, the Lakers are vulnerable against any opponent.

ALSO:

With team slumping, Nick Young says, 'It's hard to be a Lakers fan'

Pau Gasol a game-time decision Tuesday with a strained tendon in toe

Xavier Henry to slow down comeback after experiencing knee soreness

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

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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