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Lakers Week In Preview: Another Gauntlet Lies Ahead

The NBA All-Star weekend was a nice palette cleanser, as it took the minds of Staples Center faithful off of just how poorly the Los Angeles Lakers played before the break. The Lakers lost three straight games, each loss leading to new levels of desperation among  Lakers fans. Kobe Bryant and the gang, after a seven-game road trip, are home for two of four games this week, but face a relative gauntlet of sorts. Here is a look at the Lakers' upcoming schedule:

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Tonight vs. Atlanta Hawks (34-21): All-Stars Joe Johnson and Al Horford extended their stay in L.A. for a few days, as the playoff-bound Hawks come to town. The Lakers have beaten Atlanta four straight times at Staples Center.

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Wednesday at Portland Trail Blazers (32-24): No matter how many knee injuries are suffered by the Blazers, the Rose Garden will always seem like a house of horrors for the Lakers. With their win last February, the Lakers snapped a nine-game losing streak in Portland, and are just 3-15 in their last 18 games in Portland. Factor in that this is a road game on the second night of back-to-back games for the Lakers, and this will be a tough game for the Lakers. The game will be televised on ESPN.

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Friday vs. Los Angeles Clippers (21-35): The Lakers have played the Clippers twice this season, and should probably be 0-2 in those games. Derek Fisher hit a buzzer-beating runner to beat the Clippers on December 8, while the Clippers outlasted and out-hustled the Lakers on January 8. Then again, Eric Gordon might not be back by Friday with his right wrist injury, which would make it easier on the Lakers.

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Sunday at Oklahoma City Thunder (35-19): The two teams are tied in the loss column, and this Sunday matchup with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on ABC could factor heavily into Western Conference playoff seeding.

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For more Lakers news and information, be sure to read Silver Screen and Roll.