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Preview: Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers

Preview: Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Jordan Clarkson drives to the hoop against Portland guard Damian Lillard during the first half of a game in February at Moda Center. (Greg Wahl-Stephens / Associated Press)

The Portland Trail Blazers (48-26) lost a critical game on Wednesday night to the Clippers (50-26), weakening the Blazers' chance at home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

They'll visit the Lakers (20-54) on Friday night at Staples Center.

The Lakers are coming off a Wednesday night loss to the New Orleans Pelicans (40-34), suffering yet another season-ending injury, with Wayne Ellington going down with a separated shoulder.

Nick Young is also out with a knee injury, while Ronnie Price (elbow), Kobe Bryant (shoulder) and Julius Randle (knee) are all done for the year.

Dorell Wright won't play on Friday, after suffering a broken hand against the Clippers.  Wesley Matthews (Achilles') is out for the season.

Key matchup

Damian Lillard has destroyed the Lakers this season, flat out.

In three appearances, Lillard has averaged 29.3 points with 6.7 assists, shooting 57.7% from the field and 42.1% from behind the arc.

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Jordan Clarkson will get a chance to slow the Blazers' All-Star point guard on Friday.

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Clarkson has been one of the league's best rookies this season, especially the past three games, averaging 20.7 points, 9.3 assists and 6.3 rebounds while shooting 60.5% from the field.

X-factor

The Lakers' size has challenged All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge this season.

Ryan Kelly, finally playing his natural position at power forward in recent games, will likely get the first crack against Aldridge.

Portland also has a pair of capable veterans in Nicolas Batum and Arron Afflalo, along with former Lakers Steve Blake and Chris Kaman.

Meanwhile, the Lakers will need help at guard with Ellington out -- Jeremy Lin and rookie Jabari Brown.

Brown recently signed a two-year deal with the team, averaging 9.1 points through 11 games on 47.2% shooting from the field and 46.2% from three-point range.

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Outlook

The Blazers need home court for the first round of the postseason, and should be able to get past the Lakers on Friday night.

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

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