Lakers Vs. Clippers Preview: LeBron James Returns To Lineup, Lonnie Walker IV Out With Illness
LeBron James Paul George Lakers Clippers
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers look to snap their nine-game losing streak to the Clippers when they face L.A. on Wednesday night. The Lakers have not beaten the Clippers since July 2020, the second-longest losing streak in franchise history.

The Purple and Gold are in the midst of their second three-game losing streak less than one month into the season. After a four-game losing streak, the Clippers have won four of their last five.

LeBron James is playing after missing the Lakers’ previous game with left foot soreness. He told reporters Wednesday only extended rest will heal the injury, but he can’t afford to take time off. Patrick Beverly is returning as well after missing consecutive games with an illness. Anthony Davis is also going to suit up after being listed as probable with low back tightness.

Lonnie Walker IV is the newest addition to the Lakers’ injury report. He is missing his second straight game with an illness. Dennis Schroder and Thomas Bryant are also still out with their respective thumb injuries.

The biggest injury news for the Clippers revolves around star Kawhi Leonard.

He started the season coming off the bench to ease into play, but after two games, Leonard sat against the Thunder on Oct. 25 and has not played since. He is considered week-to-week with no timetable for a return.

Leonard played a key role down the stretch in the Clippers’ 103-97 victory over the Lakers last month. Since then, both teams have gone in opposite directions.

The Clippers are gaining steam with Paul George on a tear for the last five games. He’s averaged 31 points on 55% shooting from the field in that span. Beverly had the matchup in the first game and without Kawhi, it’s fair to assume he would stick on George again.

However, Beverly’s defensive attention to George is just one problem to take care of. The Clippers had six players in double figures against the Lakers and share the wealth on offense.

Marcus Morris Sr., Reggie Jackson, John Wall and Norman Powell are often the main contributors on offense alongside George. Ivica Zubac held his own while matched up against Davis in the first meeting, scoring 14 points and grabbing 17 rebounds.

For the Lakers, the keys to victory are sounding like a record scratch — team defense and a high percentage from three.

The Lakers have struggled on defense after a strong start to the season. The Purple and Gold are allowing the 24th most points in the league while the Clippers are allowing the seventh most. Three-point shooting is still a problem as the Lakers are dead last in the league shooting 29.1% from deep.

However, rebounding will also be important. The Clippers dominated the rebounding margin against the Lakers in the first meeting, outrebounding them 58 to 38.

A win Wednesday night could be a building block going into an easier schedule for the rest of the month.

Los Angeles Lakers (2-8) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (6-5)

7:00 p.m. PT, November 9, 2022 Arena
TV: Spectrum SportsNet, ESPN
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA

Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:

PG: Patrick Beverley
SG: Austin Reaves
SF: Troy Brown Jr.
PF: LeBron James
C: Anthony Davis

Key Reserves: Russell Westbrook, Kendrick Nunn, Damian Jones, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Wenyen Gabriel, Matt Ryan

Projected Clippers Starting Lineup:

PG: Reggie Jackson
SG: Terrance Mann
SF: Paul George
PF: Marcus Morris Sr.
C: Ivica Zubac

Key Reserves: John Wall, Norman Powell, Luke Kennard, Robert Covington, Nicolas Batum

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