Lakers-Warriors Preview

The Associated Press

Kobe Bryant is mired in a bit of a scoring slump, and the Los Angeles Lakers have had some trouble slowing down opponents.

A game against the struggling Golden State Warriors could be the answer to both of those problems.

Bryant and the Lakers look to continue their dominance over the Warriors Tuesday night at Oracle Arena.

After winning eight of 10, Los Angeles has dropped three of five. The Lakers, who allow an average of 93.4 points and are one of the league's top rebounding teams at 45.5 per game, have given up at least 102 points in each of the last three defeats and have been outrebounded in the past two.

In Sunday's 102-96 loss to Memphis, Los Angeles (30-19) allowed the Grizzlies to shoot 51.2 percent and score 52 points in the paint.

"We can't ignore what's going to make us a great team and what's going to make us a great team is playing defensively and playing solid at that end of the floor," forward Pau Gasol said. "Offensively, whether we play better or more confidently or not, we just have to be more consistent on the defensive end of the floor."

The Lakers could have better success defensively against a Warriors team that is struggling to find its rhythm since trading Monta Ellis.

Golden State (20-27) has dropped six of eight, averaging 92.7 points in those defeats. The Lakers are 21-4 when limiting opponents to 93 points or less.

Gasol finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds Sunday, Andrew Bynum scored 30 on 11-of-16 shooting and Ramon Sessions added 18 points in his second start with the Lakers. Bryant also scored 18 with just two coming in the fourth quarter.

Bryant didn't get as much playing time as usual down the stretch, however, as the 14-time All-Star spent nearly four minutes on the bench as the Lakers attempted to make a final push. He said he supported coach Mike Brown's decision.

"If you guys are looking for a story, I'm not going to give it to you," said Bryant, who averages a league-best 28.3 points. "I can't sit here and criticize his decisions. As the leader of this ball club, that's something I can't afford to do."

Sunday's performance was the second straight 18-point effort from Bryant, who is averaging 22.0 points on 37.1 percent shooting in the last five games. He averaged 30.9 points in the previous 10 and has enjoyed similar success against Golden State.

In the Lakers' lone matchup of the season with the Warriors on Jan. 6, Bryant had 39 points on 13-of-28 shooting in a 97-90 win. Los Angeles has won 13 of the last 14 meetings, and Bryant is averaging 28.4 points in 16 games against Golden State since 2007-08.

The Warriors will likely be short-handed for this game with Stephen Curry nursing a right ankle sprain and Nate Robinson sidelined with a strained right hamstring. Rookie Charles Jenkins started for Robinson against Portland on Sunday and finished with a career-high 27 points, but he missed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer in a 90-87 loss.

"It won't be Jenkins-sanity, but he is a guy that is more than capable of going out and doing the job," coach Mark Jackson said. "We're pleased with his progress."

Rookie Klay Thompson has also done a solid job of stepping up in the wake of the Ellis trade, averaging 19.7 points in starting the last nine games.

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