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Lakers

Preview: Lakers, without Kobe Bryant, visit a Clippers team adjusting to Blake Griffin news

Jordan Clarkson, Chris Paul

Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson, left, drives past Clippers guard Chris Paul during a game at Staples Center on April 5.

(Michael Nelson / European Pressphoto Agency)

The Lakers (9-39) will play their second game in as many nights, visiting the Clippers (30-16) at Staples Center on Friday night.

The Clippers are reeling after forward Blake Griffin broke his hand in a brawl with the team’s assistant equipment manager.  Still, the team has fared with Griffin already sidelined with a quadriceps injury.

Griffin is likely out four to six weeks, possibly longer.

Meanwhile, the Lakers have really struggled, losing eight in a row. Lou Williams sat out the team’s Thursday-night loss to the Chicago Bulls with an upper respiratory infection. His status Friday isn’t clear.

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Kobe Bryant will sit out to rest a sore shoulder.

Outside of Griffin, the Clippers are relatively healthy.

Key matchup

Dealing with Chris Paul can be an impossible matchup for many point guards. The Lakers will have their work cut out for them with young guards Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell likely drawing the assignment.

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Paul is averaging 18.6 points a night, along with 9.6 assists and 2.1 steals. He’s shooting 45.3% from the field, 38.5% from three-point range and 88.2% from the line -- in what may be one of the best seasons of his career, carrying the team with Griffin out.

Clarkson has been a steady scoring threat for the Lakers, but Russell is struggling with consistency.

While Clarkson is at 15.2 points a game on 43.7% shooting and 2.7 turnovers, Russell has averaged 12.0 on 41.4% with 4.3 miscues.

X-factor

J.J. Redick has also had an outstanding year, shooting 48.4% from the field, 48.5% from three-point range and 87.6% from the line.

He’s not quite in the 50-50-90 club, but he’s awfully close with his shooting proficiency.  Redick is averaging 16.4 points nightly.

If Williams is out, the Lakers are heavily reliant on young players like Anthony Brown, Clarkson and Russell.  Veteran scorer Nick Young could also play a big role against his former team.

Outlook

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The short-handed Lakers, on the second night of a back-to-back, aren’t close to the Clippers -- even with Griffin sidelined.

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


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