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Preview: Week 14 predictions

The Lakers finished their seven-game trip Sunday, getting two victories before losing their last four games.

The team will regroup at home before playing host to the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday.

They'll finish out the week Friday at Staples Center against the Charlotte Bobcats.

Steve Nash is expected to test his back Monday. Kobe Bryant, Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar and Xavier Henry are likely to be out at least another week.

Through 45 games, the Lakers have 16 victories, two behind cumulative expectations at 16-29.

Tuesday vs. Indiana

The Pacers (34-9) emerged last season as a contender.  They've only improved upon that season, standing atop the NBA with the best overall record.

Indiana is led by All-Star starter Paul George, averaging 23.5 points per game with 6.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.86 steals.

Center Roy Hibbert protects the paint and Lance Stephenson is a defensive force on the perimeter.  Stephenson is also a steady scorer (14.2 points per game), playmaker (5.3 assists) and rebounders (7.0).

If the Lakers were at full strength, they'd have trouble with Indiana.

The Lakers are nowhere near full strength.

Prediction: Pacers

Friday vs. Charlotte

The Bobcats always seem to play the Lakers to the wire. 

With Bryant in the lineup, the Lakers won in Charlotte in mid-December, 88-85.

The Bobcats have been limping along lately, losing point guard Kemba Walker to an ankle injury.

Charlotte is in eighth place in the Eastern Conference despite its 19-27 record.  The Bobcats are fighting for a playoff berth but are only 8-14 on the road.

Former Lakers point guard Ramon Sessions has taken over starting duties for Walker.

With Wednesday and Thursday to prepare, the Lakers should be able to put together a strong showing against Charlotte.

Prediction: Lakers

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

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