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Lakers Host Thunder In Potential NBA Playoff Preview

With the No. 2 seed still in their sights, the Los Angeles Lakers look to stop the bleeding Sunday night as they host the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center. The Lakers have lost four straiaght games, but their magic number to clinch the No. 2 seed remains two, with three games remaining. Oklahoma City still has a shot at the No. 2 seed, but it would require the Lakers to lose all three remaining games.

The Lakers have beaten the Thunder in both meeting this season, and Pau Gasol has led the Lakers in scoring each time (tied with Kobe Bryant back in January). The Lakers are 29-10 at home this season, while the Thunder are 23-16 on the road. Oklahoma City has won three straight games, and 17 of their last 21. Dexter Fishmore at Silver Screen and Roll thinks the Western Conference playoff seeding is up in the air:

For the last six weeks or so, a postseason battle between these teams seemed unlikely. With the Lakers apparently headed for the second seed in the West and the Thunder chugging along in fourth, the probable outcome was that they'd land on opposite sides of the conference playoff bracket. Now, who knows. The Lakers' losing streak, combined with a 17-4 run on the part of OKC, has jumbled the conference race. The Lakers, Mavs and Thunder could finish two-three-four in any order. If the Mavs lose at home today to the Phoenix Suns, the Lakers can clinch the second seed with a victory over the Thunder. But if both the Mavs and Thunder win, the last few days of the regular season will be a chaotic free-for-all to see who finishes where.

The Lakers have beaten the Thunder eight straight times at Staples Center in the regular season. Tonight's 6:30 p.m. PDT game will be televised on Fox Sports West.

For more news and information on the Lakers, or on tonight's game, be sure to read the SB Nation blog Silver Screen and Roll.