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Lakers vs. Hawks Game Preview: Banged up Lakers return to Staples Center

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The Lakers are reeling after their back-to-back in Denver.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers are back in Southern California after gasping for air by the end of their back-to-back date with the Denver Nuggets. It's the Atlanta Hawks who get a crack the purple and gold, who are black and blue with injuries. Lou Williams, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance, Jr. and Kobe Bryant could all miss this one with the various dings and soreness they're dealing with in the final 20 games.

This is a huge stretch for D'Angelo Russell, who should continue to take on more responsibility running the offense as the season comes to a close. He's done well in back-to-back games, and even though D'Angelo's performance fizzled out in Denver after putting up 17 first-half points, he's looking more comfortable than we've seen all season. Byron Scott committed to allowing Russell the opportunity to start through the final leg of the year, and thus far he's delivered with ever-growing confidence.

The Hawks haven't quite found the success they had last season, but they're still in the mix for home court advantage in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Their offense hasn't been the stellar machine it became through an impressive stretch, but they own the second-best defensive rating in the league, allowing just 99.6 points per 100 possessions. The Lakers don't exactly have the smoothest offense in the league, so scoring against an elite defensive squad might turn this game into something ugly in a hurry.

Either way, enjoy the game, or at least this fantastic podcast with Harrison Faigen and special guest Mike Tirico of ESPN:

Time: 7:30 p.m. PT

TV: ESPN, TWCSN, FSS