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Warriors-Lakers Preview

Dec 29, 2009 - 7:54 AM By MATT BEARDMORE STATS Writer

Golden State (9-21) at Los Angeles (24-6), 10:30 p.m. EDT

With two 15-point losses in their last three games, the Los Angeles Lakers could use an easy time to finish off a stretch of four games in five nights. A home game against Golden State would seem like an ideal matchup for the defending NBA champs to get back on track, but the Warriors suddenly don't look like pushovers.

Los Angeles looks to avoid back-to-back home losses for the first time since the end of the 2007-08 season Tuesday night when it faces a Golden State team seeking its third straight upset of a playoff contender.

Los Angeles (24-6) will take the court at Staples Center for the first time since its 11-game home winning streak was snapped, 102-87 to Cleveland on Christmas Day. The Lakers, who haven't lost two straight at home since a three-game slide March 23-28, 2008, have won six straight meetings with the Warriors overall, and 27 of the last 30 matchups between the teams in Los Angeles.

The Western Conference-leading Lakers return home from a 1-1 trip that easily could have been 0-2 if it weren't for Kobe Bryant's two clutch 3-pointers in the second overtime of Saturday's 112-103 victory in Sacramento.

Los Angeles shot 43.5 percent and trailed by as many as 22 points in the fourth quarter of a 118-103 loss at Phoenix on Monday. The Lakers needed six unanswered points in the final 1:12 to avoid their most lopsided loss of the season.

"I wasn't comfortable with my starters or my bench," said coach Phil Jackson, whose reserves were outscored 52-31 by the Suns' bench.

Making his second straight start for the injured Ron Artest, Lamar Odom had nine points and 13 rebounds. The Lakers, though, miss Artest's energy on both ends of the floor.

"It's a big adjustment because we're a team that thrives on chemistry," said Bryant, averaging 36.8 points in his last four games.

Artest could return Tuesday after suffering a concussion and injuring his left elbow in a fall at his home on Christmas night.

Artest had 19 points and six other Lakers scored in double figures in a 130-97 victory over the Warriors in Oakland on Nov. 28. That win stands as Los Angeles' highest scoring output of the season.

While the Lakers look to improve upon their 16-3 home mark, Golden State (9-21) will try to snap a five-game road losing streak.

The Warriors rallied from an 18-point first-quarter deficit at home Monday and beat Boston 103-99. Golden State, which defeated Phoenix on Saturday, hasn't won three in a row since April 1-5.

"It was a wonderful game for us," Warriors coach Don Nelson said. "Wins are hard to find anyway, especially against two quality teams in a row."

Monta Ellis looks to continue his red-hot shooting after going 15 of 26 against the Celtics and finishing with 37 points. The point guard is averaging 32.2 points and shooting 53.4 percent over his last six games.

Ellis, who will try to score 30 or more points in four straight games for the first time in his career, had 27 as the Warriors lost 114-106 on March 19 in their visit to the Lakers. He led Golden State with 18 points in last month's defeat to Los Angeles.

Andris Biedrins has missed the Warriors' last three games versus the Lakers due to injury. The center played Monday for the first time since Nov. 8 due to inflammation in his right groin, but failed to score. He had four rebounds.