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Preview: Lakers Week 18 predictions

The Lakers play a tough pair on the road in Week 18, visiting the Indiana Pacers and Memphis Grizzlies on successive nights.

The team returns home to host the Sacramento Kings on Friday before getting the weekend off.

The Lakers are finally getting healthier with Pau Gasol, Nick Young and Jodie Meeks returning during Week 17.  Xavier Henry should be back this week, although Kobe Bryant (knee) and Steve Nash (nerve root irritation) remain out.

Through 56 games, the Lakers are 19-37, four behind cumulative expectations.

Tuesday at Indiana Pacers

The Pacers (42-13), along with the Miami Heat (40-14), are the class of the Eastern Conference.

The Lakers are having trouble getting victories at Staples Center, so getting a win in Indianapolis at Bankers Life Fieldhouse against the likes of the Pacers will be a difficult challenge.

The Pacers defeated the Lakers, 104-92, in Los Angeles on Jan. 28.

Gasol, Jordan Hill and Kendall Marshall each tallied double-doubles but the Pacers ran away in the third quarter.

Prediction: Pacers

Wednesday at Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies (31-24) have survived a knee injury to Marc Gasol, climbing to a winning record with the return of last season's NBA defensive player of the year.

Memphis is fighting for a playoff spot in the West.  The Lakers are going to have a difficult night against the size and defense of the Grizzlies, especially on the second night of back-to-back games.

Prediction: Grizzlies

Friday vs. Sacramento Kings

The Lakers are hovering around the bottom the conference standings with the Kings (20-36). The team finishing with fewer wins will have greater odds of getting a higher pick in the NBA draft lottery.

The Kings have all but matched the Lakers on the futility scale to date. This could be a decisive game in the race to the bottom.

Meanwhile, DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas make a formidable trio offensively.

Sacramento, like the Lakers, isn't much of a defensive squad.

Prediction: Lakers

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

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