With time running out, the Lakers look to end their recent struggles and avenge an early April loss to the Clippers when the teams conclude their season series Thursday night.
The Lakers (40-38) are in seventh place in the West, but have lost six of eight and there are five teams—including the Clippers (37-40)—competing for the final three playoff spots. The Clippers are a half-game behind Golden State for eighth place, but have lost three straight since beating the Lakers 90-82 on April 4.
The Clippers trail the Lakers by 2 1/2 games.
“We’re up against the world right now,” Clippers forward Elton Brand said after tying a season high with 37 points in a 103-100 overtime loss to New Orleans on Tuesday night. “Two days ago, it was like, ‘OK, you guys are in. Now who are you going to play?’ Now, it’s, ‘How are you guys gonna get in?’ We’ve just got to dig deep, play harder in the third and fourth quarters.”
The Clippers have five games remaining, two against teams over .500 and three on the road.
They gave up a double-digit lead for the second time in three games Tuesday. The Clippers had an 11-point advantage at the half against the Hornets after holding a 15-point edge in the second quarter of a 96-93 loss to Denver on Saturday.
Clippers swingman Corey Maggette, averaging 16.5 points per game, has scored 24 in each of his last three contests. He is averaging 23.5 points in his last 10 games against the Lakers.
Tim Thomas, who was a game-time decision Tuesday after missing Monday’s 96-86 loss at Dallas with a sprained left wrist, went 3-for-10 and scored seven points against New Orleans. He’s averaging 5.2 points and shooting 21.6 percent in his last six games against the Lakers.
The Lakers haven’t beaten a team with a winning record since defeating Utah on Feb. 26. No other Phil Jackson-coached team has ever lost this many games in a season.
The Lakers lost 115-111 at Denver on Monday night, and even Kobe Bryant struggled.
Bryant scored 23 points, eight below his league-leading average, and missed 21 of 30 shots. He always seems to come up big against the Clippers, though, averaging 37.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 5.0 assists in his last nine games against them.
Lamar Odom added 18 points for the Lakers Monday and is averaging 19.0 in three games this season against the Clippers, the team he broke into the NBA with in 1999.
The Lakers have four games remaining, with only one against a team over .500. They play at Pacific Division-champion Phoenix on Friday night.
The Lakers are 2-1 against the Clippers this season and 40-12 in the series since the 1994-95 season.