The Los Angeles Lakers (34-20) narrowly escaped a major upset at the hands of the New Jersey Nets on Tuesday night. Now Kobe Bryant and Co. will look to take down Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers (32-21) on Wednesday evening.
It's a huge game for both teams, as it will serve as a tie-breaker between the clubs with each team winning one previous meeting.
With the Clippers just 1.5 games behind the Lakers in the Pacific Division and the Western Conference postseason picture tight, tonight's winner will have a leg up in the race moving forward.
Despite it being a home game for the Clippers, the crowd will likely be split among fans of both teams and the Staples Center will be a house divided during the marquee matchup.
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
When: Wednesday, April 4, 10:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NBA League Pass
Listen: ESPN 710 AM
Betting Line: Unavailable, according to Bovada.lv at 7:30 a.m. ET
Key Injuries: Andrew Bynum (ankle), Jordan Hill (sprained MCL), Chauncey Billups (Achilles)
What They're Saying
After Andrew Bynum sat out Tuesday's contest against the Nets, the starting center said that he would "try" to play against the Clippers (via Los Angeles Times).
However, although there has been concern over Bynum's ankle injury, the majority of the focus was on the fact that Bynum was reportedly fined by the team for "numerous infractions."
Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles has the scoop:
Bynum recently was fined an undisclosed amount for "numerous infractions," multiple sources confirmed to ESPNLosAngeles.com. One of the stunts that warranted the fine from the team was Bynum blowing off a meeting with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak.
Mike Brown added that he does not have a problem with Bynum's attitude, but it's clear that the big man has some maturing to do; this is not the first time his name has been in the headlines for a less-than-desirable reason.
Most Important Player to Watch: Randy Foye, SG, Los Angeles Clippers
Foye has stepped up for the Clippers at shooting guard since Chauncey Billups was lost for the season.
Despite the team acquiring Nick Young at the deadline, Foye has maintained a vise-grip on the starting role and has established himself as a three-point threat in a big way.
The veteran has a whopping 16 three-pointers over his last three games, and the Lakers have struggled to defend the perimeter this season.
Kobe Bryant will have to make sure that Foye doesn't get going, because the Lakers must limit a potent offensive attack before the Clippers have a chance to really get it going.
Key Matchup: Chris Paul vs. Ramon Sessions
Sessions went through a brief rough patch as he was attempting to get adjusted to his role as a starter, but he's really picked it up over the last few games.
He's averaged 10 assists per game over his last three, and it's not a surprise that each time the Lakers have emerged victorious as a result.
However, Sessions will now have to go head-to-head with Paul after battling Deron Williams on Tuesday, and CP3 has really turned in an unbelievable season to date.
Since the All-Star break, Paul is averaging 19.5 points, 9.1 assists and just 1.7 turnovers. He's a player who doesn't make many mistakes, and Sessions will have his hands full in slowing down the other floor general in Los Angeles.
Lakers 95, Clippers 91