The Los Angeles Lakers look to avoid losing their third straight game on Friday, matching up with the Philadelphia 76ers in the penultimate clash of L.A.’s road trip.
The Lakers dropped back-to-back games as health issues held back Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Patrick Beverley and Wenyen Gabriel in the last week. Juan Toscano-Anderson joined the injury list on Wednesday and will miss at least the next two weeks after spraining his ankle late in the loss to the Toronto Raptors.
However, the Purple and Gold should have Davis, James and Beverley back for the clash in Philadelphia, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
LeBron James, following a one-game absence to rest his left ankle, will return to the lineup tonight against the Philadelphia 76ers (7:30 pm ET, ESPN), sources told ESPN. Anthony Davis is listed as probable to return as well after being out with a cold.
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) December 9, 2022
Meanwhile, The 76ers are playing without Tyrese Maxey and Georges Niang, who are sidelined with foot injuries.
The hosts are currently on a three-game losing streak that caused them to slip down to eight in the Eastern Conference standings with a 12-12 record. And, James Harden just returned to play after spending a month on the sidelines with a foot tendon strain, logging 21 points on 21.1% from the field — in addition to seven assists, four rebounds, two steals and seven turnovers — in the double-overtime loss against the Houston Rockets on Monday.
The 76ers offense has been particularly disappointing so far in 2022-23, ranking in the bottom 10 and averaging just 109 points per game, the fourth fewest in the NBA. On the contrary, their defense has functioned well — slowing down the game, heavily limiting opponent field goal attempts, and collecting steals often.
But Philadelphia fouls a lot and doesn’t rebound well, making it a good matchup on paper for the Lakers.
Still, Joel Embiid averages 31.9 points, 9.6 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.8 blocks. And, Harden might have shaken off the rust by putting some extra work in the gym during the Sixers’ four-game break between their last outing and the clash with the Lakers.
Philadelphia’s starting five will deal lots of damage if L.A. gives them the space to do it. James’ and Russell Westbrook’s efficiency will be particularly important to claiming victory in the game as both have been susceptible to occasional lapses of focus and dips in shot accuracy.
Meanwhile, Davis’ return is a blessing for the Lakers, giving them a safety net going against one of the NBA’s best bigs in Embiid. If the 29-year-old can maintain the level of play from before the non-COVID illness that has kept him out of almost two full games, the Purple and Gold should be well-positioned to get back in the win column.
Los Angeles Lakers (10-14) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (12-12)
4:30 p.m. PT, December 9, 2022
Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
TV: ESPN, Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Dennis Schroder
SG: Lonnie Walker IV
SF: Patrick Beverley
PF: LeBron James
C: Anthony Davis
Key Reserves: Russell Westbrook, Austin Reaves, Troy Brown Jr., Kendrick Nunn, Thomas Bryant, Damian Jones
Projected 76ers Starting Lineup:
PG: James Harden
SG: De’Anthony Melton
SF: Tobias Harris
PF: P.J. Tucker
C: Joel Embiid
Key Reserves: Paul Reed, Danuel House Jr., Shake Milton, Furkan Korkmaz
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