The Lakers will play three games through Week 10, all at home against teams with losing records.
If they can't break their five-game losing streak and sweep the week, their chances look bleak for the future as most of January will be played on the road.
Through 31 games, the Lakers won 13, exactly matching the cumulative expectations to this point.
Tuesday vs. Milwaukee Bucks
After the Lakers lost at home on Sunday to the 9-21 Philadelphia 76ers, they've shown they can lose to anyone.
The Bucks are just 6-24 and will visit without big man John Henson, who is out with an ankle injury.
The Lakers are shorthanded with Kobe Bryant (knee), Steve Blake (elbow) and Steve Nash (back) out of commission. Xavier Henry's status is up in the air after he strained his knee on Sunday.
The player the Lakers have really missed in recent games is Pau Gasol, who sat out the last two with an upper respiratory infection.
Milwaukee has an anemic offense, at 92.7 points a game while giving up 100.9.
Friday vs. Utah Jazz
The Lakers lost a close one last Friday in Utah against the Jazz, falling 105-103 on a late Derrick Favors put-back dunk.
The Jazz (9-24) have improved since getting back point guard Trey Burke from a finger injury.
The combination of Gordon Hayward, Favors and Burke, along with a number of shooters and athletes, makes Utah a threat on any given night -- as the Lakers learned last week.
The return of Gasol, assuming he's back in the lineup, should be enough to push the Lakers on top of the Jazz.
Sunday vs. Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets (14-15) have lost six straight games to fall below .500.
The Lakers are just two games in back of the Nuggets, with a chance to make up ground this week given the (theoretically) light schedule.
Denver is led by point guard Ty Lawson, who always seems to be a problem for the Lakers. He's averaging 17.5 points with 7.9 assists a game this season.
The Lakers lost a game in Denver on Nov. 13, 111-99. Gasol had a big night with 25 points and 12 rebounds but the Lakers had a real problem with reserve center Timofey Mozgov, who scored 23.
Of the three games this week, the Nuggets should be the biggest challenge.
The Lakers are starting to fade in the Western Conference. They need a strong week to climb out of their prolonged slump.
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