The Los Angeles Lakers begin a three-game homestand by taking on D’Angelo Russell and the Brooklyn Nets, with a loss officially eliminating them from potentially reaching the 2019 playoffs.
The Lakers are a porous 1-9 in their last 10 games, with their only win coming against the Chicago Bulls. Their most recent loss was a defeat to the Milwaukee Bucks when both LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo sat, but Kentavious Caldwell-Pope exploded for 35 points.
Against the Nets, the Lakers will try to avoid their second five-game losing streak in the past 11 games. James returns to the lineup as he continues to manage his health on a daily basis and the team remains mindful of his minutes.
Tyson Chandler is also available, while Lance Stephenson is questionable and Josh Hart is out.
The big story of the game is Russell’s return to L.A. for the first time since being named an NBA All-Star. Russell has had a great season, averaging 20.7 points and 6.9 assists. His play has vaulted the Nets beyond expectations and put them in the playoffs, as they currently sit at the No. 7 seed, but are only 2.5 separated from the Orlando Magic, who are currently out of the playoffs.
The Lakers have struggled mightily to put together wins since James’ initial injury, but it has been even more exaggerated since the injury to Lonzo Ball. They are 6-18 since Ball got hurt and his starting lineup replacement, Rajon Rondo, has the NBA’s worst individual net rating of players getting more than 30 minutes per game.
The Lakers have been non-committal so far on switching to give their G League players more consistent minutes. Alex Caruso, Johnathan Williams and Moe Wagner have all played well when called upon, and unlike many of the veterans, have actually given full effort to the game. Yet all three have struggled to get consistent minutes as the season winds down.
As it stands, the Lakers currently hold the 10th pick in the Draft should the lottery hold to form. However, they are just two games back of having the seventh pick, a slot that would come with 32 percent odds at a top four pick and a 7.5 percent chance of getting No. 1 overall.
Los Angeles Lakers (31-40) vs. Brooklyn Nets (37-36)
7:30 P.M. PT, Mar. 22, 2019
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN), 1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: LeBron James
PF: Kyle Kuzma
C: JaVale McGee
Key Reserves: Alex Caruso, Moe Wagner, Johnathan Williams
Projected Nets Starting Lineup:
PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Caris LeVert
SF: Joe Harris
PF: Rodions Kurucs
C: Jarrett Allen
Key Reserves: Ed Davis, Spencer Dinwiddie, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, DeMarre Carroll