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After heavy road schedule, Lakers play next six at home

After playing 10 of their last 12 games on the road, the Lakers (18-32) will play their next six at Staples Center.

In addition to a long list of injuries, the Lakers have had a difficult schedule with 29 games on the road, where they're 10-19.  At home, they've won eight of 21.

Injuries played a major part in the Lakers' poor January showing  of 3-12.  The return of Steve Blake and Steve Nash have helped the team win their last two, albeit it over two struggling franchises: the Cleveland Cavaliers (17-33) and Philadelphia 76ers (15-36).

The Lakers are playing with a skeleton crew since Kobe Bryant (knee), Pau Gasol (groin), Nick Young (knee), Xavier Henry (knee) and Jodie Meeks (ankle) are all sidelined.

With 32 games left to play, the Lakers are 11 1/2 games behind the eighth-place Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference.  That gap is unlikely to be closed by the end of the season.

Even with the recent uptick, the Lakers have the eighth-worst record in the league.  The lower the team finishes in the standings, the higher the Lakers will pick in the 2014 NBA draft.

The negative of beating the Cavaliers and 76ers, the Lakers are "chasing" both in the draft lottery.

The Milwaukee Bucks (9-40) seem to be a lock for the worst overall record.

The Orlando Magic (15-37) and 76ers are within reach, but not if the Lakers keep winning games.

The Lakers are also behind the Utah Jazz (16-33), Sacramento Kings (17-33), Cavaliers and Boston Celtics (18-33), when it comes to the draft lottery.

If the New York Knicks (20-30) and Detroit Pistons (20-29) continue to flounder, the Lakers could  finish with the 10th-worst record.

It's unclear exactly which prospects will declare for the draft, but drafting No. 10 could be too low to get players like the duo Kansas' Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins, Duke's Jabari Parker, Australian Dante Exum, Oklahoma State's Marcus Smar or Kentucky's Julius Randle.

ALSO:

Shaquille O'Neal: Two more titles likely had he stayed with Lakers

Anthony Davis to replace Kobe Bryant on All-Star roster

Lakers make it two wins in a row by defeating 76ers, 112-98

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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