Another blowout could give Stephen Curry some early rest. Nagging injuries are expected to, at best, limit Kobe Bryant's minutes - or possibly keep him out altogether.
Curry and the Golden State Warriors seek a 37th straight home victory and continued dominance of the Los Angeles Lakers in what's scheduled to be Bryant's final appearance in Oakland on Thursday night.
Golden State (36-3) owns the NBA's best record and Curry is its leading scorer at 29.8 points per game. The Warriors have also won 36 straight home games and extending that one more will give them the third-longest streak in league history.
That mastery, which includes winning all 18 home games this season by an average of 15.3 points, affords the Warriors the luxury of resting Curry and other key players in lopsided contests.
That's been the case in the first two meetings with the Lakers (9-31) with both games resulting in wins by an average of 27.5 points. Curry hasn't played more than 30 minutes in either contest, totaling 41 points with 15 assists.
Golden State has won six straight at home against Los Angeles and seven of the last eight matchups overall after a 109-88 road victory Jan. 5.
That was part of the Warriors' seven-game winning streak, which ended with Wednesday's 112-110 defeat at Denver after Curry committed a costly turnover with 8 seconds left.
"It was a great opportunity to try to tie the game or take the lead," said Curry, who had 20 of his 38 points in the fourth quarter and a season high-tying eight turnovers. "Got stuck between looking for the open man and handling the ball."
The superstar guard is averaging 35.7 points over the last three games, and he may need to pick up the slack again Thursday if Draymond Green doesn't play. The Warriors rested Green in Denver and may do say again as they wrap up a stretch of five games in seven nights.
Bryant is just trying to get on the court after leaving Tuesday's 95-91 win over New Orleans before halftime with a sore Achilles tendon. That combined with a shoulder injury has forced the 37-year-old star to miss four of the last seven games, including last week's matchup with the Warriors.
Coach Byron Scott won't say if Bryant will play, but reiterated his desire to at least play in every city this season.
"He feels a certain responsibility to play in these arenas, which is admirable of him," Scott told the team's official website. "But my responsibility is to make sure he can play this (whole) season. I have to look past (Thursday) and Saturday's game (at Utah)."
Bryant leads the Lakers with 17.3 points per game, and he's scored 27.1 in 32 career games in Oakland. However, he only managed four on 1-of-14 shooting in a 111-77 loss on Nov. 24, his lowest production there since scoring three in his first appearance on Nov. 19, 1996.
Lou Williams scored 10 points in each of the two games against the Warriors this season, but he missed all seven of his field-goal attempts in this month's defeat.
The guard is averaging 25.3 points in four games since, but that's skewed by a career-high 44 in a 117-113 loss to Oklahoma City on Friday. He had 19 points Tuesday while missing 10 of 14 from the floor, including 7 of 8 from 3-point range.