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Preview: Lakers Week 19 predictions

The Lakers' schedule gets heavy through Week 19, with five games including four in five nights.

After a visit to the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday, the Lakers return home Tuesday to host the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Clippers "travel" to the Lakers home court on Thursday. The Lakers then visit Denver to play the Nuggets on Friday.

The Lakers get Saturday off before welcoming the powerful Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday afternoon.

Through 59 games, the Lakers have just 20 wins.

Monday at Portland Trail Blazers

The Lakers always seem to have trouble winning in Portland. That's true even when the Lakers are contenders, something that isn't the case this year. The 41-18 Blazers have won five in a row.

Given how low the Lakers are in the standings, they're better off losing more than winning to get better position in the NBA draft lottery.

The Blazers should oblige with a dynamic starting five featuring All-Stars LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard, along with Robin Lopez, Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews.

The Lakers should have no problem scoring 100 points in Portland but the Blazers may still win by 20.

Prediction: Portland

Tuesday vs. New Orleans Pelicans

The Lakers return home the following night to host the Pelicans (23-36), a team struggling with injury.

New Orleans has lost seven straight, falling well out of playoff contention. Jrue Holiday (tibia), Ryan Anderson (back) and Jason Smith (knee) are all expected to miss the rest of the season.

The Lakers are still without Kobe Bryant (knee), Steve Nash (nerve root irritation) and Nick Young (knee) although Xavier Henry (knee) is expected to be available Monday against the Blazers.

All-Star forward Anthony Davis is a lot to handle but the Pelicans are vulnerable.

Prediction: Lakers

Thursday vs. Clippers

The Clippers (41-20) have a loaded roster after picking up Glen Davis and Danny Granger in free agency.

J.J. Redick is still sidelined with a back issue, but the Clippers have enough talent available to challenge just about any team in the league.

Chris Paul is back from a shoulder injury but in his absence, Blake Griffin emerged as a true leader for the Clippers.

The Lakers have struggled most of the season defensively, giving up 106.5 points a night.  The Clippers average 107.2 points offensively, but should top that against the Lakers.

Prediction: Clippers

Friday at Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets (25-33) are another team struggling for wins.  In addition to losing five in a row, Denver has lost nine of 10.

Losing Ty Lawson to a rib injury has been too much to bear with Danilo Gallinari (knee), Nate Robinson (knee) and JaVale McGee (leg) all out for the year. Wilson Chandler has also been hobbled with knee problems.

The advantage the Nuggets should have over the Lakers on Friday is the altitude in Denver with the Lakers on a back-to-back (and four in five nights).

Prediction: Nuggets

Sunday vs. Oklahoma City

The Oklahoma City Thunder (45-15) are the top team in the Western Conference, despite missing point guard Russell Westbrook for much of the year.

After a couple of stumbles trying to adjust to the return of Westbrook (who missed 30 games this season), the Thunder have won two straight, just 1-1/2 games behind the league's best Indiana Pacers (46-13).

Kevin Durant is averaging 31.6 points a game this season while shooting 50.7% from the field and 39.6% from behind the arc.  He's also contributing 7.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists a game.

At the end of a long week, the Lakers are going to have their hands full on Sunday afternoon.

Prediction: Thunder

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Xavier Henry makes second D-Fenders appearance, has 19 points in loss

eric.pincus@gmail.com

Twitter: @EricPincus

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