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Lakers: Week 22 predictions

Blogger Eric Pincus predicts how the Lakers will fare this week against the Thunder, Timberwolves and Nets

The Lakers (18-50) finished Week 21 with a win over the Philadelphia 76ers (17-53).

The Lakers, who start a five-game road trip on Tuesday, face this week and Sunday the Oklahoma City Thunder (40-30), Minnesota Timberwolves (15-54), Toronto Raptors (42-28) and Brooklyn Nets (29-39).

Coach Byron Scott will miss the first couple of games because his mother died. Assistant Paul Pressey will run the team in the interim.

To date, the Lakers are one game better than the cumulative prediction of 17-51.

Tuesday at Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder have climbed to the eighth and final playoff berth in the Western Conference, a spot they'll fight to hold despite injuries to Kevin Durant (foot), Serge Ibaka (knee), Nick Collison (knee) and Andre Roberson (ankle).

Roberson may play on Tuesday, but Durant and Ibaka won't.

Still, Russell Westbrook has been a monster, doing just about everything possible to help carry the Thunder to the postseason.

Prediction: Thunder

Wednesday at Minnesota Timberwolves

When free of injury, the Timberwolves actually have a relatively solid roster. They just haven't been sound for most or all of the season.

The list of players in and out of the lineup is long, including Ricky Rubio (ankle), Nikola Pekovic (ankle) and Kevin Garnett (knee).  Shabazz Muhammad is done for the season (finger).

Minnesota is one of the teams the Lakers are technically "chasing" in the race for top pick in the NBA draft.

With the Lakers traveling to Minnesota on the second night of a back-to-back, the injured home team should be the favorite.

Prediction: Timberwolves

Friday at Toronto Raptors

The Raptors are one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, but All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry has missed games recently with a back injury.

Toronto is still jockeying for playoff seeding, while the Lakers are developing players -- and rarely winning games.

Prediction: Raptors

Sunday at Brooklyn Nets

Despite their losing record, Brooklyn is still very much in the playoff mix in the East.  The Charlotte Hornets (30-39), Boston Celtics (31-39), Indiana Pacers (30-40) and Nets are all neck-and-neck for the eighth spot in the conference.

Other than Mirza Teletovic (chest) and Sergey Karasev (knee), the Nets are generally healthy after a bumpy season that is partially to blame for the team's mediocre record.

Prediction: Nets

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

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