Looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Los Angeles Lakers conclude their two-game homestand on Tuesday when they host another spiraling Eastern Conference team in the Chicago Bulls.
The Bulls enter with a 10-33 record and are one of only four teams this season with a winning percentage below 25 percent. Two of them — the New York Knicks and Cavaliers — have each handed the Lakers a deflating loss at Staples Center over the last two weeks of play.
Mired in the Bulls’ current seven-game losing streak has been drama inside the locker room. Kris Dunn and Robin Lopez were involved in a scuffle on Monday during the team’s practice in Santa Monica.
Lopez has been vocal about wanting more playing time and is a prime candidate to be moved before the NBA trade deadline.
As for the Lakers, they look to get back on the right track after dropping two consecutive games and seven of their last 10 overall. The team will again be without the services of superstar LeBron James, who recently began running for the first time since injuring his groin on Christmas Day, and was a participant in shootaround.
Thus, the Lakers young core will attempt to carry the load and avoid another slow start. Point guard Lonzo Ball is unsure why the team has lacked energy without James on the court, but is making it a key focus of his to take on an expanded leadership role in his absence.
Kyle Kuzma is averaging 19.6 points per game in January and has tallied a combined 81 points over the last three contests. The Utah product has stepped up offensively sans James, tallying a career-best 41 points in last Wednesday’s win against the Detroit Pistons.
Lakers head coach Luke Walton is expected to make a change in the lineup in effort to solve the team’s woes at the beginning of games.
Los Angeles Lakers (23-21) vs. Chicago Bulls (10-33)
7:30 P.M. PT, Jan. 15, 2019
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: NBATV, Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Lonzo Ball
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Brandon Ingram
PF: Kyle Kuzma
C: JaVale McGee
Key Reserves: Josh Hart, Ivica Zubac, Lance Stephenson, Michael Beasley
Projected Bulls Starting Lineup:
PG: Ryan Arcidiacono
SG: Kris Dunn
SF: Zach Lavine
PF: Lauri Markkanen
C: Wendell Carter Jr.
Key Reserves: Bobby Portis, Robin Lopez, Shaq Harrison