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Preview: Lakers at Indiana Pacers

While the Lakers (19-37) have the worst record in the Western Conference, the Indiana Pacers (42-13) are not only tops in the Eastern Conference, but in the entire NBA.

Indiana plays stifling defense, holding teams to a league-best 90.9 points a night. Though the Pacers score only 98.8 a game, their point differential of 7.9 is unmatched.

Although the Lakers score at a decent clip (100.6 a game), they allow 105.9 -- worst in the West.

Indiana recently acquired guard Evan Turner from the Philadelphia 76ers for veteran Danny Granger.

The Lakers will play without Steve Nash (nerve root irritation), Kobe Bryant (knee) and Xavier Henry (knee).

Key matchup

All-star Paul George is one of the league's best two-way players.

In addition to averaging 22.7 points a game, he's a tough, physical defender.

Defensively, the Lakers might put Wesley Johnson on George, or the job could go to newcomer Kent Bazemore, who started at small forward on Sunday when the Lakers hosted the Brooklyn Nets.

Off the bench, Nick Young is one of the Lakers' top scorers, at 16.8 points a game. Expect George to get the assignment on Young throughout the game.

X-factor

Offensively, the Lakers rely on Pau Gasol and his 17.1 points (along with 10.1 rebounds) a game.

Gasol will face 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert in the post. Hibbert, also an all-star, will be in the running for this season's defensive player of the year.

Though the Indiana center blocks 2.47 shots a night, he averages just 11.5 points and 7.6 rebounds a game.

The best case for the Lakers would be Gasol getting Hibbert in foul trouble.

Outlook

In addition to George and Hibbert, the Pacers boast a dangerous starting lineup with David West, Lance Stephenson and George Hill.

Neither Turner nor former Lakers center Andrew Bynum have yet to play for Indiana.

Regardless, the Lakers are not a good team right now, although the roster is slowly getting healthy.

A win in Indiana would be a surprise.

ALSO:

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Lakers receive $2.8 million trade exception in Steve Blake deal

Mitch Kupchak: 'Unacceptable' for Lakers to simply dump salary

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

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