Lakers: Week 21 predictions

Eric Pincus predicts how the Lakers will fare this week against Golden State, Utah and Philadelphia

The Lakers (17-48) finished Week 20 with a loss to the Atlanta Hawks (52-14).

They'll play three times through Week 21, visiting the Golden State Warriors (52-13) followed by two at Staples Center against the Utah Jazz (29-36) and Philadelphia 76ers (15-51).

To date, the Lakers are one better than the cumulative prediction of 16-49.

Monday at Golden State Warriors

The Lakers have beaten the Warriors this season without Kobe Bryant, but they're going to be hard-pressed to get another win on Monday playing the top team in the Western Conference on the road on the second night of a back-to-back.

Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and the rest of the Warriors should have enough to exact revenge on the Lakers.

Prediction: Warriors

Thursday vs. Utah Jazz

The Lakers knocked off the Jazz in Utah in late February, but the Jazz have emerged in recent weeks as one of the league's better defensive squads, winning their last five.

The paring of big men Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors as rim protectors is the primary reason why it's difficult to score against Utah.

Prediction: Jazz

Sunday vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Like the Lakers, the Sixers struggle to close out games.  Philadelphia has young talent, notably Nerlens Noel, Robert Covington and Ish Smith.

The 76ers are one of the three teams the Lakers have a chance to catch in the draft lottery standings.

If the Lakers do not finish with a top-five pick, Philadelphia will get the Lakers' selection (via the Phoenix Suns).  It's actually in both team's best interest to lose on Sunday.

Prediction: Lakers

Email Eric Pincus at and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times