Games between the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers have had a different kind of energy over the last few years. Though many have yet to declare it a full-on rivalry, there is no question that things tend to ramp up when these two teams meet.
With both out of playoff contention there is nothing to play for aside from L.A. pride and the chance to end the season on a positive note. The Lakers and Clippers have each lost three straight and are down a number of major rotation pieces.
Once again Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Kyle Kuzma are out for the Lakers, as has been the case for some time now. The Clippers are in even worse shape with Lou Williams out, as he joins Patrick Beverley, Danilo Gallinari, Avery Bradley, Milos Teodosic, and Jawun Evans. Montrezl Harell is also questionable.
Despite the injuries, both teams still have more than enough capable players and chief among them for the Lakers is their newest one, Andre Ingram.
After grinding for 10 years in the G League, Ingram got his first taste of NBA action and made an immediate impression, finishing with 19 points, three rebounds and three blocks. Ingram is the G League’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made and it was apparent why as he knocked down four of five from deep. He gives the Lakers a much-needed threat from behind the arc.
Rookie Josh Hart has also stepped up, especially since Kuzma went down. Hart is averaging 21.7 points and 7.3 rebounds in the last three games, proving that he has plenty in his game that he wasn’t able to show earlier this season. Likewise, Julius Randle continues to be the constant for this Lakers team through all of the injuries and roster change.
The Clippers still have some talent, namely upfront with the duo of Tobias Harris and DeAndre Jordan. Harris has been excellent all season and really stepped up since being dealt to the Clippers ahead of the trade deadline.
He can do damage both inside and out as he’s usually too quick for bigger power forwards, and too big for the average small forward. His matchup with Randle will be the one to watch most.
If that’s the top one to watch, the center battle between Jordan and Brook Lopez isn’t far behind as they are two completely different players and whoever controls this matchup could decide the game.
Lopez is skilled, especially in the paint, and his ability to pull Jordan away from the paint with his 3-point ability could hinder the Clippers defense as he is their one true rim protector. Jordan of course uses his outstanding athletic ability to be a menace on the glass and get easy dunks and putbacks. Lopez’s biggest job will be keeping him off the glass.
Austin Rivers is expected to return, which will give the Clippers something resembling an actual point guard which they didn’t have in their last game. He is extremely streaky and his team really feeds off his confidence so the Lakers can’t allow him to get going.
In a game like this, the numbers really don’t mean nearly as much. There aren’t the same rosters that have been around all year. This contest will come down to effort and who wants it more. Luke Walton has said that his team’s expected standard of play has risen and he refuses to accept anything less. Doc Rivers has done the same with the Clippers.
If nothing else, the Lakers should be fighting with everything they can to avoid another season sweep at the hands of their fellow Staples Center residents.
Three Keys To Lakers Victory
Turnovers: It’s been said all year and it remains the same. The Lakers simply have to take care of the ball. Likewise, the Clippers’ lack of traditional point guards and ballhandlers should lend itself to the Lakers being able to create turnovers on that end and get out in transition.
Get Hot From Deep: The Lakers have players capable of getting hot from deep. In Ingram, Hart, Lopez, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Channing Frye, the Lakers have far more shooters available than the Clippers. A big gap in 3-pointers could wind up being the difference if the Lakers can pull it off.
Heart & Effort: Both teams are injured and out of playoff contention. This game is simply about pride and who wants the win more. The Lakers must leave everything on the floor if they want to end this season with a W.
Los Angeles Lakers (34-47) Vs Los Angeles Clippers (42-39):
7:30 P.M. PST, April 11, 2018
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Alex Caruso
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Josh Hart
PF: Julius Randle
C: Brook Lopez
Key Reserves: Tyler Ennis, Andre Ingram, Ivica Zubac, Travis Wear, Channing Frye
Projected Clippers Starting Lineup:
PG: Austin Rivers
SG: Tyrone Wallace
SF: Wesley Johnson
PF: Tobias Harris
C: DeAndre Jordan
Key Reserves: Sindarius Thornwell, CJ Williams, Montrezl Harrell, Sam Dekker
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