Warriors-Lakers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 31, 2012
After squeaking past one lesser opponent, the Los Angeles Lakers want to avoid overlooking another one. The Lakers have won 14 of their last 15 meetings with the Golden State Warriors heading into Sunday night's matchup at Staples Center. Los Angeles (32-20) won 88-85 at home Saturday over Western Conference-worst New Orleans, blowing an early 14-point lead and eventually needing to rally from 10 down in the fourth quarter. The Lakers have split their last eight games. "New Orleans came out as the undermanned team and we took them lightly," guard Ramon Sessions said. "But, it's like I tell (the Lakers) when I came in with Cleveland, this was our championship coming here playing in the Staples Center so teams are coming in playing hard and we just have to be consistent and play hard too." Kobe Bryant missed his first 15 shots, but made a 3-pointer that put Los Angeles ahead for good with 20 seconds left. Bryant missed 18 of 21 shots on the day and scored 11 points - his fewest in his last 23 games. "I'm stubborn. You have to have that kind of attitude, that kind of determination or stubbornness,'' Bryant said. "That's what gets teams over the hump to win multiple championships." Known for his clutch play, Bryant demonstrated that ability by scoring six points during a game-ending 9-4 run in Tuesday's 104-101 victory at Golden State (20-30). He's averaging 34.5 points in two wins over the Warriors (20-30) this season. Tuesday's defeat opened a winless three-game homestand for Golden State, which lost its fourth straight overall Friday with a 102-100 defeat to New Jersey. The Warriors blew a 19-point lead in the third quarter against the Nets, causing coach Mark Jackson to chastise his team for "messing around." "We didn't close them out when we had them and it came back to bite us,'' Jackson said. "We ought to be ashamed of ourselves. They outworked us in our own building.'' Bouncing back won't be easy since the Warriors have dropped seven straight on the road against the Lakers and 32 of their last 35 away from home in the series. The Lakers are 21-5 at home, although their last seven games there have been decided by single digits. "We've got a good record, we've won games, but we haven't been beating teams by 15 or 20 whether we're at home or on the road," coach Mike Brown said. "So, it's been a dog fight for us all the time." Jackson started three rookies Friday for Golden State, with first-round pick Klay Thompson getting his 12th start in a row. Thompson, whose father Mychal is the radio color commentator for Los Angeles, has averaged 17.0 points in the two losses to the Lakers this season. Los Angeles has outrebounded Golden State by an average of 15.0 boards in those contests, with Pau Gasol averaging 18.0 points and 14.0 rebounds. If there's an edge for the Warriors, it's the fact that they rank among the NBA's leaders in 3-point shooting at 38.4 percent. The Lakers are one of the league's worst from beyond the arc, shooting 31.3 percent. The Warriors remain without centers Andris Biedrins (groin) and Andrew Bogut (ankle), and guard Stephen Curry (ankle).
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