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NBA Preview from The Sports Network

Wednesday, April 2nd (All times eastern)

Portland Trail Blazers (38-36) at Los Angeles Lakers (50-24), 10:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Lakers play the fourth of a five-game homestand, as they welcome the Portland Trail Blazers tonight to the Staples Center.

The Lakers are a half game ahead of the second-place Phoenix Suns in the Pacific Division standings. LA is No. 3 in the West and 1 1/2 games away from the top seed.

The Lakers are 1-2 on the stand and will host the fading Dallas Mavericks on Friday in the finale of the homestand. Los Angeles is 25-11 as the host this season.

After dropping the first two contests on the homestand, the Lakers bounced back with a tough win over Washington. Superstar Kobe Bryant scored 26 points as the Lakers withstood a number of surges from the Wizards to hold on for a 126-120 overtime victory at Staples Center. Bryant shot just 7-of-24 from the floor, but dished out a season-high 13 assists.

LA has been playing without forward Pau Gasol, who has been sidelined with a sprained left ankle. Gasol, who was obtained from the Grizzlies in a midseason trade, is averaging 18.8 points and 7.9 rebounds in 19 games with the Lakers this season. The seven-footer has missed nine straight games.

The Lakers are 5-4 during the stretch without Gasol, who is probable for tonight's contest.

Portland has dropped two in a row and is 13-25 on the road this season. It has lost two straight as the visitor.

On Saturday, Emeka Okafor scored 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting to keep the Bobcats' slim playoff hopes alive, as Charlotte defeated Portland, 93-85, at the Rose Garden.

Travis Outlaw poured in 26 points in the loss to the Bobcats for the Trail Blazers. LaMarcus Aldridge chipped in 21 points and 13 rebounds, while Steve Blake and Jarrett Jack both netted 11 in defeat.

After tonight's contest, the Trail Blazers will return home for a three-game homestand. They will host Houston, San Antonio and the Lakers.

The Blazers and Lakers have split a pair of games this season, as both clubs picked up a win at home. The Trail Blazers have won three of the last five contests in the series.

Portland has lost two straight and five of its last six at the Lakers.

The Trail Blazers are scheduled to host the Lakers on April 8 at the Rose Garden.

04/02 11:34:52 ET

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