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Wizards-Lakers Preview

The Associated Press

The short-handed Washington Wizards will try to earn the first win on their Western road trip by continuing their recent success over the scuffling Los Angeles Lakers.

While likely missing a pair of big men, the Wizards will seek their third win in a row in the series and fourth in five games Friday night.

Washington (35-33) is 0-2 on its four-game trek after a 116-103 defeat to Portland on Thursday. The Wizards opened this trip with a 117-111 overtime loss at lowly Sacramento on Tuesday.

They blew an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter against the Kings but trailed by double digits for all of the final period Thursday. Washington allowed an average of 98.0 points in the four games before heading out west.

The Wizards also played Thursday without leading rebounder and shot blocker Marcin Gortat. The center missed his first game this season after injuring his back in pregame warmups.

"'Things aren't going our way right now," point guard John Wall said. "Some guys are down, but there are no excuses. We know we should be 1-1 on this trip right now. Two more games left to put this one behind us. Win the next two, go home even."

With Gortat's status unknown, Washington will seek to get its trip back on track by earning another win over the Lakers (22-45). The Wizards registered a 116-111 home victory Nov. 26 in the only other matchup this season.

Wall led the way with 31 points, and Nene matched a career high with 30. The forward hasn't played since Feb. 23 because of a sprained left knee ligament.

Drew Gooden has attempted to replace his production by averaging 19.0 points on 61.8 percent shooting and 8.0 rebounds in the last three games. Gooden, signed for the rest of the season Tuesday, had 18 points and nine boards in Thursday's loss while Wall totaled 24 points and 14 assists.

Los Angeles didn't have Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Chris Kaman available for their most recent matchup with Washington. The Lakers will likely be more short-handed for this one even with Nick Young expected to return from a left knee injury.

Along with Bryant, Nash and Kaman, Los Angeles also played without Jordan Farmar and Jordan Hill in its third consecutive loss and sixth in seven games Wednesday, 125-109 to visiting San Antonio. Xavier Henry had 24 points, second-most in his career, in the defeat.

The Lakers trailed by just five entering the fourth quarter against the league-leading Spurs but were outscored 33-22 in that final period.

"In (a 119-85 loss at San Antonio last Friday), the effort wasn't there and the toughness wasn't there, and we got beat by a lot," forward Ryan Kelly said. "We realized we can't play that way, and tonight was different. We have to build off this and play like this all the time so that we put ourselves in a position to win some games."

The Lakers, who have yielded 106 or more points in each of their last 12 games, had a four-game home win streak over the Wizards snapped with a 103-100 defeat March 22. Trevor Ariza had a team-leading 25 points off the bench in that game, and Wall contributed 24 points and a career-high 16 assists.

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