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Lakers continue trip in Charlotte to take on Jeremy Lin and Hornets

Lakers continue trip in Charlotte to take on Jeremy Lin and Hornets
Hornets guard Jeremy Lin drives past Raptors guard Cory Joseph for a layup. (Chuck Burton / Associated Press)

The Lakers (5-26) visit the Charlotte Hornets (16-13), playing on their second-straight night after falling Sunday to the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Hornets are one of 10 teams with winning records in the Eastern Conference.

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The Lakers are expecting Kobe Bryant to play, despite the back-to-back and recent soreness in the All-Star's shoulder and knee.

Charlotte finally has center Al Jefferson back from a calf injury, and a five-game suspension for breaking the NBA's substance abuse policy.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is out for the season because of a shoulder injury. Spencer Hawes is dealing with back issues.

Lakers guard Lou Williams is also battling shoulder soreness.

Key matchup

The Hornets have a strong attack at point guard with Kemba Walker scoring a team-high 17.9 points a night, along with 5.0 assists a game. Reserve, and former Lakers guard, Jeremy Lin is averaging 11.3 points with 4.5 assists.

The Lakers will counter with their young contingent of Jordan Clarkson and D'Angelo Russell.

Clarkson has struggled to hit his outside shot since sitting two games in mid-December with an ankle injury. His 11.6 points a game since then have come with just one made three-pointer in 17 attempts (5.9%).

Russell's outside shot is improving. The rookie has converted 10 of his last 22 tries (45.5%).

X-factor

Nicolas Batum is typically one of the most versatile small forwards in the NBA, but the injury to Kidd-Gilchrist has pushed him into the backcourt as a part-time shooting guard.

The veteran is averaging 16.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.9 assists a game this season.

He may draw Williams, the Lakers' starting shooting guard, but don't be surprised if Batum starts off guarding Bryant.

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Outlook

While the Lakers have a couple of recent wins, they look like a team that can't wait to get home after too many December road games. Expect a Hornets win Monday.

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

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