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Preview: Lakers at Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cleveland Cavaliers haven't been decimated by injuries like the Lakers have. They play in the weaker Eastern Conference in which just five teams have winning records.

Somehow though, the Cavaliers have the same record as the Lakers through 48 games, 16-32.

Injuries have defined the season for the Lakers, who just got Steve Nash and Steve Blake back on Tuesday night in a loss to the Timberwolves in Minnesota.

Jordan Farmar (hamstring) should be available Wednesday when the Lakers visit the Cavaliers. Jodie Meeks (ankle), Pau Gasol (groin), Kobe Bryant (knee) and Xavier Henry (knee) are out.

Jordan Hill's status is unclear after taking an inadvertent elbow to the face from teammate Chris Kaman on Tuesday.

Blake suffered a punctured ear drum on Tuesday but was able to finish the game.

Key matchup

Kyrie Irving drives the Cavaliers' offense, averaging 21.7 points and 6.2 assists per game.

Voted in as an all-star starter in the Eastern Conference, Irving is an extremely difficult cover.

Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, he hasn't been able to carry the team to many wins.

The Lakers may start Blake or Farmar at the point, or perhaps Kendall Marshall with Blake at the two.

Nash is expected to have the night off with the Lakers playing on consecutive days.

None of the available Lakers point guards are going to match Irving's scoring output. The best they can hope for is high assist numbers while giving an effort defensively (not a Lakers strength this season).

X-factor

Luol Deng has played 13 games for the Cavaliers, averaging 16.2 points and 5.2 rebounds while shooting 44.4% from the field.

With a team-high 27 points, Deng helped Cleveland get 120-118 win over the Lakers on a Jan. 14.

The Lakers have relied on Nick Young for scoring (17.1 points a game) but the team is going to need offense from other players -- especially with Nash, Meeks, Gasol and the rest sitting out.

Outlook

The Lakers on the floor will do their best to win. Coach Mike D'Antoni wants his team to win.

That said, the Lakers are competing with the Cavaliers in the lottery ball chase. Additionally, the Boston Celtics (16-33) and Philadelphia 76ers (15-34) play on Wednesday.

A loss for the Lakers would be a solid step toward a higher pick in the 2014 NBA draft.

ALSO:

Phoenix Suns stop trade talks with Lakers for Pau Gasol

Pau Gasol has platelet therapy to speed healing of groin injury

Lakers get Steve Nash and Steve Blake back but can't break losing streak

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

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