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Preview: Lakers' Week 23 predictions

The Lakers stunned the New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns, splitting Week 22 along with a pair of losses to the Minnesota Timberwolves and Milwaukee Bucks.

The Lakers have a busy Week 23, although three are at Staples Center with a "road" game against the Clippers. The Lakers also visit the Sacramento Kings, another franchise battling for lottery position.

Pau Gasol could return after missing most of the week with vertigo. Jordan Farmar (groin) could also play.

Through 73 games, the Lakers have just 25 wins, two behind cumulative expectations at 25-48.

Tuesday vs. Portland Trail Blazers

The Lakers recently upset the Blazers (48-27) in Portland. Look for a little revenge from the Blazers, who recently got LaMarcus Aldridge on the floor after a back injury.

Aldridge gave the Lakers 21 points in the losing effort. Damian Lillard scored 20, Robin Lopez 19 and Nicolas Batum 17 in defeat.

Pau Gasol was huge for the Lakers with 22 points, nine rebounds and five assists. His status is unclear for Tuesday.

Portland is currently seeded fifth in the Western Conference. The Lakers have moved up in the standings, potentially hurting their draft position in June.

Prediction: Trail Blazers

Wednesday at Sacramento Kings

The Lakers can't really afford to win another game and yet facing the team they're in direct competition with, the 25-48 Kings, will the Lakers get trounced on the second night of back-to-back?

Common sense would say yes but recent history suggests otherwise.

The Kings are tough with DeMarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas and Rudy Gay but have struggled for wins this season.

Sacramento should be better than the injured Lakers.

Prediction: Lakers

Friday vs. Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks (44-3) are neck-and-neck with the Phoenix Suns (44-30) and Memphis Grizzlies (43-30). Three teams are battling for two playoffs spots.

Dallas has been inconsistent at times this season but is above .500 on the road (19-17).  They've already beaten the Lakers twice this year. 

Dirk Nowitzki is the team's leading scorer at 21.4 a game.  Monta Ellis is right behind him at 18.9.

Friday will be the final meeting between the clubs.

Prediction: Mavericks

Sunday at Clippers

Blake Griffin was hit with back spasms on Saturday in a Clippers' win over the Houston Rockets.  While his status isn't entirely clear, the Clippers (52-22) still have Chris Paul and one of the better teams in the NBA.

While they might not be able to catch the second-place Oklahoma City Thunder (54-19) in the Western Conference standings, the Clippers are certainly making a go at it.

The Lakers were recently demolished by the Clippers, suffering a franchise-worst 48-point defeat.

It won't be that bad on Sunday, but it shouldn't be that much better.

Prediction: Clippers

ALSO:

Lakers rout the Phoenix Suns, 115-99

Lakers can't stop Kevin Love, Timberwolves in 143-107 loss

Julius Randle raises draft stock, helping Kentucky to Elite Eight

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

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