The Los Angeles Lakers have a chance to go on their first winning streak without LeBron James as they play at home against the struggling Detroit Pistons.
The Lakers are currently 2-5 without James or Rajon Rondo in the lineup, but are coming off of a strong road win against the Dallas Mavericks, who hold the NBA’s fifth-best home record. Now, the Lakers are back at Staples Center hoping to find some offensive rhythm.
It should be a little easier with Kyle Kuzma having returned and is getting back to full health after missing games with a lower back contusion.
The Lakers have their work cut out for them, though, as the Pistons are also desperately trying to find some type of rhythm for themselves. After a 13-7 start to the season, the Pistons have gone 4-14 in their last 18, dropping out of the Eastern Conference playoff race.
The Lakers, who are clinging on to the eighth seed in the West, need wins now, as waiting until James returns could see them fall out of playoff contention.
Once again, it will all be up to the young core of Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart. Ingram, Ball and Hart are all coming off of exceptional individual performances against the Mavericks, but it now becomes about finding some consistency.
In the seven games without James, Ball has either scored over 13 or under three points, while Ingram has turned the ball over 3.0 times or more in all but one of those seven games. Those numbers have to become more consistent or this team will become far too reliant on James.
The Pistons, while not playing well at the moment, do pose some match-up problems for the Lakers. Blake Griffin has played very well against the Lakers in his career, so that will be up to a mixture of Kuzma, Ingram and Hart to slow him down.
Down low, the Pistons are home to what is likely the NBA’s best rebounder in Andre Drummond. It will be up to JaVale McGee, Tyson Chandler and possibly Ivica Zubac to keep his rebounding numbers low.
While winnable, the Lakers still must maintain focus to find success. This team has lost some bad games this year due to inconsistent play, and if the Lakers want to be in the playoffs in April, they have to win games like this one.
Los Angeles Lakers (22-19) vs. Detroit Pistons (17-21)
7:30 P.M. PT, Jan. 9, 2019
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: ESPN, Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Lonzo Ball
SG: Josh Hart
SF: Brandon Ingram
PF: Kyle Kuzma
C: JaVale McGee
Key Reserves: Tyson Chandler, Lance Stephenson, Michael Beasley, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Projected Pistons Starting Lineup:
PG: Reggie Jackson
SG: Reggie Bullock
SF: Bruce Brown
PF: Blake Griffin
C: Andre Drummond
Key Reserves: Jose Calderon, Luke Kennard, Stanley Johnson, Jon Leuer
Reminder: Vivid Seats is the Official Ticket Reseller of LakersNation.com. New Customers use “LAKERSNATION” (all CAPS) in the Vivid Seats App on your phone and get 10% off any Lakers home game ticket order for the remainder of the season.