The Los Angeles Lakers returned home after a rough road trip and picked up a much-needed win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night.
Now, they look to build off that in the second of a back-to-back against the Los Angeles Clippers. The game is at Crypto.com Arena, of course, although the Lakers are technically the road team in this one.
While the “Battle for L.A.” has been one of the biggest NBA rivalries in recent years, that hasn’t exactly been the case this year as both teams have been without star players for a majority of the season. As a result, the Clippers currently sit in eighth place in the Western Conference at 26-27 while the Lakers are right behind at 25-27.
This game again lacks star power as the Clippers are without both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George while the expectation is that LeBron James is sitting out his fifth straight game for the Lakers.
James is dealing with swelling in his left knee and Frank Vogel recently said that he will not return to the court until that swelling is gone to avoid further injury.
While that’s not ideal for a team struggling to stay in the postseason mix, the Lakers have no chance of making any noise without James this year so it makes sense to ensure he is 100% healthy before returning.
Without James though, it will be up to Anthony Davis to pick up the slack. He has looked as dominant as ever since returning from a knee injury of his own, averaging 29.3 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.7 blocks and 1.3 steals over his last three games.
That includes a 30-point, 15-rebound performance in the win over the Trail Blazers in which he took over late in a close back-and-forth game.
This marks the second of four games between the two division rivals this season with the Clippers coming back to win the first one in December.
Luke Kennard, Luke Harteinstein and Reggie Jackson all made strong contributions in that game, so the Clippers are not a team the Lakers can take lightly even though they are without their two stars.
Former Lakers center Ivica Zubac, who is in the midst of a solid season with the Clippers, is also out tonight as he continues to work his way back from a calf injury.
Lakers (25-27) vs. Clippers (26-27)
7 p.m. PT, Feb. 3, 2022
Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, California
TV: TNT, Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Malik Monk
PF: Stanley Johnson
C: Anthony Davis
Key Reserves: Austin Reaves, Carmelo Anthony, Talen Horton-Tucker, Dwight Howard, Trevor Ariza
Projected Clippers Starting Lineup:
PG: Reggie Jackson
SG: Amir Coffey
SF: Terance Mann
PF: Marcus Morris Sr.
C: Serge Ibaka
Key Reserves: Nicholas Batum, Luke Kennard, Eric Bledsoe, Isaiah Hartenstein, Justise Winslow
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