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Preview: Lakers at Clippers

On Friday night, the Lakers (14-22) visit the Clippers (25-13) for the first time this season.

While both teams play at Staples Center, the Lakers won their home opener in a 116-103 upset.

Neither team will have their star guards: Kobe Bryant (knee) and Chris Paul (shoulder) are both injured.

The Clippers should have J.J. Redick back from a hand injury. The Lakers will also be without Steve Nash (back), Steve Blake (elbow), Jordan Farmar (hamstring) and Xavier Henry (knee).

The Lakers have lost nine of their last 10 while the Clippers have won two in a row despite playing without Paul.

Key matchup

Blake Griffin is leading the Clippers with 22 points a game. He's improved both his jump shot and his low-post game.

In addition to being a tremendous athlete, Griffin has increased his playmaking ability with Paul sidelined. On the season, Griffin is averaging 10.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists while shooting 52% from the field.

The Lakers will probably match Pau Gasol against Griffin.

While Gasol has greater height and length, he's not as quick as the Clippers' star.

Gasol has played well since recovering from bronchitis and a sinus infection, although the Lakers haven't been able to capitalize on his production.

Robert Sacre, Jordan Hill, Chris Kaman and Ryan Kelly might also get time guarding Griffin.

X-factor

Darren Collison will get most of the minutes at point guard. Coach Doc Rivers isn't ready to play former Laker Darius Morris big minutes. Maalik Wayns is back from a knee injury, but probably won't get much time.

Instead, guard Jamal Crawford is likely to get the backup minutes behind Collison.

The Lakers are reliant on Kendall Marshall to carry the team at point guard. Like Crawford, Jodie Meeks is a shooting guard moonlighting as a backup point.

Meeks is the Lakers' starter at the two. Crawford has started but could come off the bench with the returning Redick.

Outlook

The Lakers are in bad shape, primarily because of injury.

The Clippers aren't at their best, but they've got a lot more available talent on the floor than the Lakers.

Opening night was an upset. It would be a shocker for the Lakers to get a win on Friday night.

ALSO:

Lakers lineup not-so-merry-go-round

Lakers giving games away with too many turnovers

Despite Kobe Bryant's advice, he's an All-Star starter to voting fans

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

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