The Los Angeles Clippers are mercifully set to play the last game of what has been a terrible season at Staples Center. The crosstown rival Lakers, meanwhile, are trying to ensure themselves of some extra games there in the playoffs.
The Lakers, in a tight race for home-court advantage in the Western Conference, look to complete a series sweep of a Clippers team playing its final home game of the season Thursday night.
The Clippers (23-55) are 13-27 at Staples, the arena they share with the Lakers (53-25). The draft lottery-bound Clippers have lost three straight and 11 of their last 13 at home.
The Lakers (53-25), on the other hand, have enjoyed a significant advantage at Staples, going 27-11 there. After Thursday's "road" game, the Lakers play their final three games of the season at home.
That bodes well for the Lakers, who are making a run at the top spot in the West, as well as trying to secure home-court advantage for at least the first round of the playoffs.
The Lakers missed a chance to gain ground on West-leading New Orleans on Tuesday, losing 112-103 to Portland, but a matchup with the Clippers gives them a good chance to at least keep pace Wednesday.
The Lakers are 3-0 against the Clippers this season, outscoring them by an average of 25.3 points. The Lakers shot 60.9 percent (14-for-23) from 3-point range in a 119-82 win over the Clippers on March 7.
The Lakers, though, had a four-game winning streak snapped in their last game, and the Clippers have forward Elton Brand back in the lineup and are looking to play spoiler down the stretch. The Clippers conclude the season with three road games against top teams in the West: Golden State, New Orleans and Houston.
"We just want to win some games," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "Against the teams that we are playing, obviously a victory will be of some consequence."
Even with Brand back, injuries remain a hindrance for the Clippers. Brand has played four straight games after missing the season's first 74 while recovering from Achilles' tendon surgery, but starters Chris Kaman (sprained right ankle) and Corey Maggette (strained right hamstring) sat out the Clippers' 117-99 loss to Denver on Tuesday night.
Kaman and Maggette are uncertain for Thursday's game. The Clippers are 3-19 without Kaman this season.
Tim Thomas, meanwhile, returned versus the Nuggets after missing five games with a sore Achilles' tendon, finishing with seven points and five rebounds off the bench.
"Once we get healthy, it won't be like this again," said Brand, averaging 17.5 points and 6.8 rebounds since returning. "We have the talent, we just have to get it on the court."
The 6-foot-8 Brand was the Clippers' tallest starter Tuesday. He had 17 points and eight rebounds, but the Clippers lost for the 22nd time in 26 games.
While the Clippers are averaging just 94.0 points on the season, the Lakers rank fourth in the league with 108.5 per game.
Lakers star Kobe Bryant is averaging 32.9 points in his last nine games, but has been held to 16.5 in his last two contests against the Clippers.