With 25 games remaining in the 2018-19 NBA season, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers are making one final push to end their five-year playoff drought.
“It’s been quite a while for me that I’ve been under .500 going into the All-Star break. I don’t remember the last time,” James said following Wednesday’s practice.
“My level of intensity has to be [higher], unfortunately for me, because I don’t like to do it at such an early time. But it’s been activated.”
While the Anthony Davis trade rumors are behind them, the Lakers are still working on getting back to full strength. As there is currently no update on Lonzo Ball’s recovery from a Grade 3 ankle sprain, the team’s defense has struggled mightily without him.
And in their first game back from the 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend, James Harden and the Rockets present a major challenge defensively.
As Chris Paul recently returned and Clint Capela is expected to return, all of the attention remains on Harden. He is looking to score 30+ points for the 32nd consecutive game, which actually started against the Lakers on Dec. 13.
When healthy, James and the Lakers can compete with most teams but they need to get back to their top-10 defense to make a legitimate playoff push.
Los Angeles Lakers (28-29) vs. Houston Rockets (33-24)
7:30 P.M. PT, Feb. 21, 2019
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Brandon Ingram
SG: Reggie Bullock
SF: LeBron James
PF: Kyle Kuzma
C: JaVale McGee
Key Reserves: Rajon Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Josh Hart, Lance Stephenson
Projected Rockets Starting Lineup:
PG: Chris Paul
SG: James Harden
SF: Eric Gordon
PF: PJ Tucker
C: Clint Capela
Key Reserves: Kenneth Faried, Gerald Green, Austin Rivers
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