The Los Angeles Lakers look for their third straight win and fourth in five games when they host the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night. Like the Lakers, the Clippers have won two straight and are right in the middle of the giant logjam in the middle of the Western Conference Standings. They have also beaten the Lakers nine consecutive times with the Lakers’ last victory over the Clippers coming during the 2020 NBA Championship run.
The Lakers will not have their new acquisition Rui Hachimura available, however, as they must still clear through the logistics that come along with making a midseason trade.
Of course, the matchup with the most eyeballs on it will be Lakers superstar LeBron James against Kawhi Leonard of the Clippers. LeBron continues to put forth unbelievable performances and was named Western Conference Player of the Week for the second time this season. Leonard, meanwhile, is finally beginning to look like his former self since returning from his knee issue. He has scored 30 points or more in three of the last four games for the Clippers.
The games between the Lakers and Clippers have taken on a different level of atmosphere recently. The stars on both sides tend to deliver so more often than not these contests come down to which role players step up.
Thomas Bryant vs. Ivica Zubac will be absolutely critical as both are the only true bigs to get minutes on each side. Bryant finally snapped out of his slump Sunday night was a 31-point, 14-rebound performance while Zubac is averaging a double-double this season. It will be up to Bryant to ensure he doesn’t dominate the glass the way Steven Adams did against the Lakers on Friday night.
The Lakers must also stay aware of all the shooters on the court for the Clippers. They rank sixth in the NBA in 3-point percentage and are capable of blowing things open with a barrage of deep shots. The Lakers are fortunate in that their biggest shooting threat, Luke Kennard, is out for the contest with a calf issue, but the Clippers still have four other players shooting 38 percent from 3 or better.
How the Lakers match up with the Clippers defensively will also be worth watching. Patrick Beverley sets the tone on that end while the likes of Troy Brown Jr., Max Christie and Juan Toscano-Anderson will likely all be utilized heavily in trying to contain Leonard and Paul George. Dennis Schroder has also proven to be an important piece as his play has improved, but with the Clippers employing a large backcourt it will be interesting to see how effective he will be.
If the Lakers can continue to take care of the ball the way they have recently, it gives their defense the chance to set up which is essential if they plan on finally ending this string of losses to their rivals.
Los Angeles Lakers (22-25) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (25-24)
7:00 p.m. PT, January 24, 2023
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Dennis Schroder
SG: Patrick Beverley
SF: Troy Brown Jr.
PF: LeBron James
C: Thomas Bryant
Key Reserves: Russell Westbrook, Wenyen Gabriel, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Max Christie
Projected Clippers Starting Lineup:
PG: Terrance Mann
SG: Paul George
SF: Kawhi Leonard
PF: Marcus Morris Sr.
C: Ivica Zubac
Key Reserves: Reggie Jackson, Norman Powell, Robert Covington, Nicolas Batum
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