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Celtics, Lakers renew rivalry in down times

(SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of disappointing and storied franchises collide Friday night, as the Los Angeles Lakers take on the rival Boston Celtics at Staples Center.

The Lakers are just 18-36 this season and have been ravaged by injuries throughout the campaign, while the Celtics have a 19-36 mark in what has been described as a rebuilding year.

Los Angeles has lost the first four portions of its six-game homestand, including Wednesday's 134-108 loss to Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets. Howard was playing in front of the Lakers fans for the first time since bolting to Space City in the offseason after one year in Hollywood. He posted 20 points and pulled down 13 rebounds.

"We had fun tonight because we're playing great," Howard said. "We went out there and set the tone early. I can't focus on the Lakers. They always find a way to get to the top. I wish I would have been healthier last season, but things happen for a reason."

Wesley Johnson led the Lakers with 24 points, Kendall Marshall ended with 20 points and 16 assists and Jodie Meeks chipped in 19 points in the loss. Ryan Kelly scored 13 points for Los Angeles, which is just 2-11 in its last 13 games and 8-17 at home.

The Lakers will close the homestand Sunday versus Brooklyn and are playing without Kobe Bryant (knee), Pau Gasol (groin) and Nick Young (knee). Steve Nash (back/illness) is questionable Friday.

Los Angeles made a move before the NBA's trade deadline, sending Steve Blake to Golden State in exchange for guards Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks. Bryant wasn't pleased with dealing Blake to the Warriors and went to Twitter to vent his feelings.

"Not cool with @SteveBlake5 being gone AT ALL One of my closest teammates and psycho competitor GS picked up gem #smartmove"

Boston opened a four-game western trip with Wednesday's 100-94 loss at Phoenix, as Rajon Rondo and Brandon Bass both scored 18 points with Rondo dealing out 10 assists.

Jeff Green scored 17 points in the loss for the Celtics, losers in two straight and three of four games since winning three in a row.

"We actually, I thought, did a pretty good job at times of being balanced," said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. "But we just had a couple of errors, including at the end of the game and you can't make errors against them because they are coming and they are coming fast and hard."

The Celtics managed to score 25 points on 18 Phoenix turnovers, but it wasn't enough to prevent them from falling to 8-19 on the road. They will also visit Sacramento and Utah on this western jaunt.

Boston suffered a 107-104 setback to Los Angeles in Beantown on Jan. 17 and has lost eight of the past 11 matchups between the rivals.