The Lakers travel across the hall to face the Clippers in what will be the third meeting between the two sides on the season. The Lakers lead the season series 2-0 but are 5.5 games back of the fourth-seeded Clippers in the Western Conference standings. LeBron James is unavailable tonight with an ankle issue, while Jarred Vanderbilt and Anthony Davis are probable. Taurean Prince is not on the injury report after missing the last game against Portland, and Gabe Vincent remains out.
D’Lo’s Time to Shine
D’Angelo Russell has been subject to a huge amount of trade rumors recently. In the midst of that and being inserted back into the starting lineup, he is playing perhaps his best stretch of basketball since he returned to the Lakers last February. Tonight with James out Russell will lead the Lakers offense, looking to facilitate for Anthony Davis and acting as the primary ball handler. Russell will need to continue his outstanding scoring from recent games in James’ absence for the Lakers to have any chance of pulling out a win. There is no better way to quiet the trade rumors then to get a big win tonight behind a big performance from Russell.
Attack the Paint
The Clippers have many talented perimeter defenders. However, with Ivica Zubac now missing due to a calf injury, the Lakers’ offensive focus has to be finding Anthony Davis and attacking the paint with force. With LeBron out the Lakers will lose a lot of rim pressure, so whenever they can the Lakers need to ensure they get the ball to Davis. It will require another starter, perhaps Rui Hachimura, to apply pressure at the rim in James’ absence to help create open looks for Russell and Austin Reaves.
With the trade deadline nearing and every game being evaluated, how will the Lakers fare without one of their two superstars against a very good Clippers team? Tip off is at 7PT as the Lakers look to steal one against there city rivals.
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