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Posted Jan 21 2007 9:00PM
The Los Angeles Lakers spoiled the Golden State Warriors' season opener two and a half months ago, but both teams will look quite different when they meet on Monday.
After a disappointing road trip, the Lakers look to get back on track as they return home to host the new-look Warriors at the Staples Center.
Los Angeles (26-15) defeated Golden State 110-98 on Nov. 1 at Oracle Arena, but played without Kobe Bryant, who underwent arthroscopic surgery in mid-July and missed the Lakers' first two games of the season because of soreness in his surgically repaired right knee.
Bryant averaged 35.3 points against the Warriors (19-22) last season, though, and his career average of 25.7 points against Golden State is his third-highest against any opponent. This Monday also marks the one-year anniversary of his career-best 81-point performance last season against Toronto.
The Lakers have won five straight games over the Warriors and 10 of the last 11. Los Angeles has held Golden State to 39.8 percent shooting while outrebounding the Warriors by an average of 6.8 boards during the win streak.
They have also won six straight home games over them, and are 13-1 all-time against Golden State at the Staples Center.
While the Lakers were without their top scorer in their last meeting with the Warriors, Golden State will have four new players on its roster following its eight-player trade with Indiana last Wednesday.
The Warriors traded for Al Harrington, Stephen Jackson, Sarunas Jasikevicius and Josh Powell last week, and got immediate production in their first game with their newcomers.
Golden State lost to Cleveland 106-104 in overtime on Saturday, but coach Don Nelson was pleased with the new direction of the team.
"I like the pieces that we have now,'' Nelson said. "That was a glimpse of the way we can play. Now it's up to me to put guys in a position where they can succeed and not fail.''
Jackson had season highs of 29 points, seven rebounds and five steals, Harrington had 14 points and 12 rebounds, while Jasikevicius had 10 points and four assists while playing 20 minutes in his debut.
"I still have to learn all the plays and get a feel for everyone,'' Jackson said. "I could easily tell that the fans here appreciate basketball, and I'm going to give 110 percent for them.''
The Warriors will also have leading scorer Baron Davis back for this game after he served a one-game suspension against the Cavaliers for allegedly throwing a punch in Golden State's previous game.
Guard Monta Ellis is averaging 20.1 points in his last seven games after missing his previous five with a right shoulder injury, and scored 22 points on 7-of-10 shooting in the season opener against Los Angeles.
The Lakers lost to New Orleans 113-103 on Saturday to drop two of three on their three-game road trip, but they open a stretch of three straight games at the Staples Center, where they have been tough to beat.
Los Angeles has won five straight homes games, averaging 112.2 points in those contests, and is 18-4 at the Staples Center.
"We're still in a great position,'' said Maurice Evans, who scored a career-high 23 points on Saturday. "We're still ahead of the curve, but it's like we're fighting and fighting and then we shoot ourselves in the foot, it makes it difficult and take two steps back. We've got to be more focused and stay together.''
Bryant scored 20 points in the second half against the Hornets after going 0-for-3 in the opening half with three free throws.
The eight-time All-Star finished just 7-of-22 from the field for 23 points, and is averaging 23.9 points in his last nine games after scoring 29.1 ppg in his first 29.
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