The Los Angeles Lakers look to extend their winning streak to three on Monday night when they travel to take on the Phoenix Suns.
Both teams will be shorthanded in this one as the Lakers are without Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Austin Reaves, and Juan Toscano-Anderson in the second of a back-to-back. Davis injured his foot in Friday night’s win over the Denver Nuggets and is expected to miss at least a few weeks.
In his absence, it will be up to Thomas Bryant to continue stepping up as the Lakers’ starting center. He has done that so far, scoring a season-high 21 points against the Nuggets and then following it up with a 16-point, 10-rebound performance, including the game-winning dunk, against the Washington Wizards on Sunday.
Meanwhile, James is sitting out the second of the back-to-back while Reaves is dealing with an ankle sprain that the suffered against the Wizards. Wenyen Gabriel is back in action, however, after missing the last few games with a shoulder issue, and Patrick Beverley was upgraded to questionable with a calf injury.
On the Suns side of things, they are also without some key players including Devin Booker due to groin soreness. Cameron Johnson, Cam Payne, Duane Washington Jr. and Jock Lawndale are also expected to be out.
Deandre Ayton is listed as questionable with a left ankle sprain. He missed the last two games but could be returning just in time to play the Lakers. It will be interesting to see if tempers flare considering the last time these two teams squared off, Beverley was ejected for pushing Ayton to the ground.
After Booker fouled Reaves and then stood over him, Ayton also came over and did the same. Beverley took exception to the Suns players mocking his teammate like that and came over and shoved Ayton, eventually leading to his ejection and a three-game suspension.
These division rivals have had some heated battles over the last couple of years, so that is always something to watch for when they square off.
With Davis expected to miss significant time though, this represents a prime opportunity for the Lakers to pick up a win over another shorthanded squad to keep up in the playoff race.
Los Angeles Lakers (13-16) vs. Phoenix Suns (18-12)
6 p.m. PT, December 19, 2022
Footprint Center, Phoenix, AZ
TV: Spectrum SportsNet, NBA TV
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Dennis Schroder
SG: Patrick Beverley
SF: Lonnie Walker IV
PF: Troy Brown Jr.
C: Thomas Bryant
Key Reserves: Russell Westbrook, Wenyen Gabriel, Damian Jones, Max Christie, Kendrick Nunn
Projected Suns Starting Lineup:
PG: Chris Paul
SG: Mikal Bridges
SF: Josh Okogie
PF: Torrey Craig
C: Deandre Ayton
Key Reserves: Damion Lee, Bismack Biyombo, Landry Shamet, Ish Wainwright
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