The Los Angeles Lakers will be looking for their first win without LeBron James as they return to Staples Center to take on the Los Angeles Clippers on the second night of a back-to-back.
Both the Lakers and the Clippers are coming off a matchup against the Sacramento Kings. The Clippers won 127-118 with seven players scoring in double-digits, including 24 points from Lou Williams. The Lakers, however, lost at the buzzer, 117-116, despite stellar performances from Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball.
Kuzma scored 33 points and has definitely found his stride this season. He’s scored in double-figures in his last 17 games, with 12 of those performances being for more than 20. Ball also had himself a phenomenal performance against the Kings. He put up 20 points, 12 assists and 9 rebounds. He had a 10th rebound but it was taken away and given to Tyson Chandler.
In order to beat the Clippers, the Lakers will have to gear up defensively. Head Coach Luke Walton said he was disappointed by the Lakers not getting back on defense in order to argue with referees. The Clippers have an extremely balanced attack, so the Lakers will need to maintain focus.
The Clippers have surprised many so far this season, currently sitting at 20-14 with the fourth-best record in the West. For the Clippers, their guard/forward combo of Tobias Harris and Danilo Gallinari is where the offense begins.
The two average a combined 41 points per game, and Harris has scored at least 10 points in all but one game this season.
This will also be the first time Patrick Beverley faces Ball in a matchup since the first game of Ball’s career, when Beverley held him to 3 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists. Ball is significantly improved since then, so this should be an interesting matchup. Beverley does come off the bench for rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, but still averages nearly 25 minutes per game.
This will undoubtedly be a tough game for the Lakers, but being back at home without James should give them some extra motivation. The Lakers must prove they can win without James before two tough games in a rematch against the Kings and a big-time game with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Los Angeles Lakers (20-15) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (20-14)
7:30 P.M. PT, Dec. 28, 2018
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: Spectrum SportsNet, NBATV
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Lonzo Ball
SG: Josh Hart
SF: Brandon Ingram
PF: Kyle Kuzma
C: Ivica Zubac
Key Reserves: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Tyson Chandler, Lance Stephenson
Projected Clippers Starting Lineup:
PG: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Tobias Harris
PF: Danilo Gallinari
C: Boban Marjanovic
Key Reserves: Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley, Montrezl Harrell