The Los Angeles Lakers will end the six-game road trip with a clash against the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday.
LeBron James is set to miss his third straight game with knee soreness. But Malik Monk and Anthony Davis will return to action after sitting out the loss to the Charlotte Hornets with minor injuries.
Meanwhile, Trae Young and De’Andre Hunter were listed as questionable to play against the Lakers with hip and ankle issues, respectively, but are good to go
The former has been the driving force behind Atlanta’s superb offense — ranking second in the league with a 114.3 rating — that fired the team onto its current six-game winning streak.
Young averages the NBA’s fifth-highest 27.5 points per game in addition to 9.2 assists, and 4.0 rebounds this season, shooting 45% from the field and 37.5% from beyond the arc.
While L.A. might face different iterations of Atlanta’s backcourt on Sunday, the matchup between Anthony Davis and Clint Capela under the rim is guaranteed to play a major role in deciding the winner. Davis put up a spectacular performance when coming up against the Philadelphia 76ers star center Joel Embiid earlier this week, ending up with 31 points and 12 boards.
The 28-year-old All-Star will now face one of the best rebounders in the league, as Capela grabs 12.5 boards per game, the third-highest average in the NBA. To avoid losing the battle on the glass, Davis might need to shift his focus toward the defensive end, letting Russell Westbrook run the show on offense.
Westbrook’s coming off his best performance in a Lakers jersey, scoring 35 points in the loss to the Charlotte Hornets in addition to four rebounds, five assists, and just one turnover. He also shot 3-for-7 (42.9%) from the 3-point land.
If Westbrook can maintain this level of efficiency, he could enjoy plenty of opportunities to feast on the Hawks’ struggling defense. Atlanta gives up 114.1 points per 100 possession, owning the fourth-worst defensive rating in the league.
Head coach Frank Vogel said the 2017 NBA MVP’s performance against the Hornets could be “something the Lakers can build on.” A similar game from Westbrook but with Davis by his side this time around would add substance to Vogel’s hopes.
It would also reinforce the faltering belief the Lakers’ Big 3 could still become a title-winning weapon this season.
Lakers (24-26) vs. Hawks (23-25)
10 a.m. PT, Jan. 30, 2022
State Farm Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
TV: 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: Talen Horton-Tucker, Austin Reaves, Carmelo Anthony, Trevor Ariza, Dwight Howard
Projected Hawks Starting Lineup:
PG: Trae Young
SG: Kevin Huerter
SF: De’Andre Hunter
PF: John Collins
C: Clint Capela
Key Reserves: Bogdan Bogdanovic, Danilo Gallinari, Delon Wright, Lou Williams, Onyeka Okongwu
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