Preview: Lakers at Cleveland Cavaliers

The Lakers aren't likely to beat the Cavaliers in Cleveland, with or without LeBron James

The Lakers (13-37) may miss LeBron James on Sunday when they visit the Cleveland Cavaliers (31-21).

James is nursing a sore wrist, with the Cavaliers coming off a rare loss on Friday to the Indiana Pacers, their first defeat in 13 games.

The Cavaliers' 109-102 win at Staples Center on Jan. 15 was the start of a 12-game winning streak.

Meanwhile, the Lakers will play without Jordan Hill (hip), along with Kobe Bryant (shoulder), Julius Randle (knee) and Steve Nash (back), who are all done for the season.

James is questionable, while center Anderson Varejao (Achilles') is out for the year.

Key matchup

The Lakers played the Cavaliers closely in L.A., but that was with a healthy Bryant scoring 19 points with 17 assists, and Hill leading the way with 20 points on 10 of 14 shooting.

James scored 36 points, followed by Kyrie Irving with 22 and Kevin Love with 17.

The Cavaliers' big three is a lot for any team to deal with. If James is able to play, Ryan Kelly will likely draw the defensive assignment initially.

Tarik Black is a tough defender, but he'll be tested against Love, while fellow rookie Jordan Clarkson would draw Irving.

The Lakers are now focused more on player development than winning. Sunday should provide valuable minutes for the team's youth movement.

X-factor

Timofey Mozgov always seems to give the Lakers fits, although he only scored four with the Cavaliers in January.

Robert Sacre, Ed Davis, Carlos Boozer and Black will need to help protect the rim inside against Mozgov, as well as the rest of the Cavaliers.

On offense, the Lakers would benefit if Nick Young could get back on track. He went scoreless on Friday night in an overtime loss to the Orlando Magic.

Outlook

The Lakers aren't likely to beat the Cavaliers in Cleveland, with or without James.

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

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