Lakers point guard Darius Morris, who had 24 points, is tied up by Spurs guard… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)
The Lakers (45-37) can avoid a sweep to the San Antonio Spurs (58-24) on Sunday with a victory at Staples Center in Game 4. Of course, to do so they'll need to get it done with a skeleton crew.
Metta World Peace will sit with a knee injury. The veteran forward missed the second half of Game 3 after trying to play despite getting a cyst drained earlier that day.
Steve Nash (hamstring/hip), Kobe Bryant (Achilles), Steve Blake (hamstring) and Jodie Meeks (high ankle sprain) are also sidelined for the Lakers, who will probably turn to a lineup of Darius Morris, Andrew Goudelock, Earl Clark, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard.
The Spurs will be missing Tiago Splitter, who sprained an ankle in Game 3. San Antonio is still without Boris Diaw (back), but with a commanding 3-0 lead, they have very good chance of closing out the Lakers on Sunday.
The Lakers need to find a way to slow Tony Parker, who is averaging 20.3 points through three games on 52.2% shooting from the field with 7.6 assists.
Morris had some success against him, but no one else on the Lakers' roster seemed to deter Parker.
Goudelock scored 20 in 41 minutes but Parker torched him as well.
In three games, Morris is averaging 11.3 points on 56.5% shooting from the field and 42.9% from three. He's the team's best perimeter player currently — at least by attrition.
The Lakers need to play defense, which they simply didn't in Game 3. Howard needs to stay out of foul trouble. So too does Morris.
The team needs both Morris and Goudelock to have big scoring nights to help open the floor for Gasol and Howard.
Tim Duncan was a problem for the Lakers. If he's hitting nearly every shot, the Lakers will start their summer vacation on Monday. Even if Duncan doesn't have a good night, it's going to take a near-perfect game for the Lakers to force a Game 5.
If the Lakers were at full strength they would be a true challenge for the Spurs.
San Antonio is significantly better than this broken-down Lakers squad. It's not even close.
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Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.