Clippers point guard Chris Paul, who finished with 25 points, drives past… (Frank Franklin II / Associated…)
The Lakers (25-28) have a chance to overtake the Portland Trail Blazers in the standings with a win on Wednesday night over the visiting Clippers (38-17).
Of course, defeating the deep and talented Clippers will be a challenge. After a variety of injuries throughout the season, the Clippers are finally at full strength.
The Lakers have already lost twice this season to the Clippers, sitting 12 games behind their Staples Center roommates in the Western Conference standings.
The Lakers badly need this win as they try to climb into the top eight in the West. As Kobe Bryant said on Tuesday, the Clippers are one of the best teams in the league.
The Lakers had Kobe Bryant guard Chris Paul in stretches during their last meeting. While it worked to a point, Paul was able to make key plays down the stretch to help his team gut out a win.
Paul is an MVP candidate this season in the vicinity of LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Bryant's length might be able to bother Paul a little but he's too dynamic to be stopped.
The Lakers need a balanced game from Bryant, who has made playmaking a greater focus in recent weeks.
If it's Steve Nash trying to guard Paul, the Lakers are going to have a difficult time.
Jamal Crawford has been an explosive scorer all season for the Clippers, second on the team behind Blake Griffin.
The Lakers are a very different team when Metta World Peace is hitting shots. World Peace has been slumping as of late, although he had a solid game on Monday against the Phoenix Suns.
If World Peace can help spread the floor, the Lakers are a much bigger threat offensively.
The Clippers have been the consistent team for most of the year. The Lakers might head into the All-Star break with another loss.
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Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.