Charlotte Bobcats at Los Angeles Lakers game preview

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a close win against the Denver Nuggets, the Bobcats continue their west coast road trip at the Staples Center against the struggling Lakers.

The game tips off at 10:30 p.m. tonight.

Some good news tonight: Although his status is still questionable, Kemba Walker may be healthy enough to return from injury tonight. Also, the Bobcats are playing the Lakers, who sit 14th in the Western Conference and happen to be carrying a four-game losing streak.

Given the terrific play of Al Jefferson as of late, it seems the Bobcats might be considered the favorites in this game. This might be the first time in franchise history they're favored against the Lakers in Los Angeles. It's a good feeling. Cherish this feeling.

That being said, it should be noted that the Lakers are playing this poorly because of long-term injuries to both Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash. The health issues surrounding Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar probably don't help either. The Lakers still boast Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill -- a very solid starting frontcourt -- though they don't have much in terms of perimeter play. Thanks to the recent success of Kendall Marshall as their starting point guard, the Lakers' ball movement has gotten better. However, it hasn't resulted in any substantial upswing in the production of Nick Young, Jodie Meeks, or Wesley Johnson.

Mike D'Antoni has his team playing at a very fast tempo (the Lakers rank third in the NBA in pace) and while the Bobcats aren't a fast-paced team, they do have speed and athleticism. Hopefully that makes the Lakers' fast break less effective.

If Kemba Walker is available for this game, it would help the Bobcats considerably, but it's important that they don't rush him back. If he's still unavailable, Jefferson's been playing some of the best basketball of his career lately and should be able to hold his own against the Lakers' front line while perimeter players like Gerald Henderson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist match up well with the Lakers' volume shooters. One more positive sign: the Lakers give up more rebounds than anybody in the NBA.

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