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Bryant’s status is up in the air

Times Staff Writer

The Lakers have had this little problem the last few years.

The Clippers.

After blowing past them for the better part of nine seasons -- series score from 1995 to 2004: Lakers 31, Clippers 5 -- the Lakers have managed only 2-2 splits with their Staples Center mates the last three seasons.

That’s a little weird, no?

“I don’t think it’s weird at all,” Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. “They’ve got a better team than we have for the last few years. Now I think we’re starting to catch up and they’ve had the [Elton Brand] injury. They’ve had some talented players.”

Tonight’s game between the teams is a Lakers home game, although Kobe Bryant might be sidelined because of what the team is calling a strained left groin.

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It will be a game-time decision for Bryant, who was hurt while trying to spin along the baseline near the midpoint of the fourth quarter in the Lakers’ 108-106 loss Friday against Golden State.

Bryant was hobbled the rest of the way, although he said afterward he would play tonight against the Clippers. Bryant did not take part in Saturday’s practice and did not speak to reporters afterward.

A day later, the sting of losing to the Warriors after leading, 102-94, with 3:29 to play, hadn’t left the Lakers.

“We started just settling on shots and they started picking on Kobe because he couldn’t move,” Jackson said. “I would’ve taken him out of the game earlier, but because he was on the foul line, I couldn’t get him out in that situation.”

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Andrew Bynum gets another test tonight when he goes against Clippers center Chris Kaman, who is averaging 18.6 points and 13.8 rebounds in his fifth NBA season.

“These are guys I’m going to be playing against for the next 10, 12 years in the league,” said Bynum, averaging 11 points and 10 rebounds. “I think that he’s doing really well right now. I feel like I can become a great player in the league, and it starts by just going out and playing hard.”

Jackson said Bynum might be getting help down low.

“I told these guys we’re going to have to double-team [Kaman],” Jackson said. “He’s ready to do the things that an NBA center has to do physically and mentally. He’s playing great.”

TONIGHT

Clippers vs. Lakers, 6:30, FSN West, Ch. 5

Site -- Staples Center.

Radio -- 570, 710, 1330.

Records -- Lakers 13-9, Clippers 9-13.

Record vs. Clippers (2006-07) -- 2-2.

Update -- The Clippers have stumbled after a 4-0 start, although they won two of three games on a trip that ended with a 98-91 victory in Memphis. After tonight, the Lakers begin a four-game trip Tuesday in Chicago. Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw was not at Friday’s game after undergoing eye surgery. He could return to the bench for tonight’s game.

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mike.bresnahan@latimes.com


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