Los Angeles Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers (-4.5, 205.5)
The battle of Los Angeles has a different feel with the Clippers possessing the second-best record in the Western Conference and the Lakers floundering below .500. The teams meet Friday at the Staples Center – the Clippers are the “home” team – with the Lakers aiming to cut into their nine-game deficit to the Pacific Division-leading Clippers. The Lakers lost to the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday while the Clippers have dropped two straight following a franchise-record 17-game winning streak.
The Lakers have their worst record after 31 games since a 12-19 start during the 2002-03 season. If the season ended today, they would miss the playoffs. “It’s frustrating,” point guard Steve Nash said. “We’re in a tough position and we really have a lot of ground to make up. We’re not finding the answers right now. So many situations just seem new, and I think we’re struggling to find that little bit of connectivity that makes a team a team.” The Clippers have lost their last two games by a combined 35 points and set season lows for shooting percentage in both contests – 38.5 percent against Denver on Tuesday and 36.4 percent against Golden State on Wednesday.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, Time Warner Cable SportsNet (Lakers), Prime Ticket (Clippers)
ABOUT THE LAKERS (15-16): A recent move to small forward hasn’t curtailed the effectiveness of Kobe Bryant, who scored 36 points in the loss to the 76ers. Bryant has scored 30 or more points in 13 of the past 15 games but is becoming increasingly frustrated over Los Angeles’ inability to put together a long winning stretch. “We were just stuck in the mud,” Bryant said after the loss to Philadelphia. “As individuals, we all have to figure out how to get ourselves ready each and every game to have a high-level game. That’s a big thing when you’re starting to age. It’s tough and it takes a lot of commitment.” Bryant scored 40 points when the Lakers lost to the Clippers on Nov. 2.
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (25-8): Backup guard Jamal Crawford had 24 points in the loss to Golden State for his 13th 20-point outing of the season. The performance was impressive considering Crawford injured his left foot one night earlier against Denver. “It’s a sprained foot, close to the ankle, too,” Crawford said. “It limits you a lot, that’s for sure.” Forward Blake Griffin is struggling and has averaged just 9.7 points over the last three games. Griffin has just one double-double in his last six outings.
* Clippers are 8-1 ATS in their last nine home games.
* Over is 6-0 in the last six meetings.
* Lakers are 1-6 ATS in the last seven meetings in Los Angeles.
* Over is 4-1 in Lakers’ last five road games.
1. The Clippers won the first meeting this season but the Lakers have won four of the past six overall.
2. Nash is averaging 12.2 points and 9.6 assists in five games since returning from a leg injury.
3. Clippers F Caron Butler is expected to play after missing the loss to Golden State due to personal reasons.