The Los Angeles Lakers will have to try to land their first win of the season without two key pieces of the rotation as they take on the San Antonio Spurs at home Monday night. Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma will start in the place of Rajon Rondo and Brandon Ingram, who have been suspended for their roles in an altercation with Chris Paul and the Houston Rockets over the weekend.
Ball has started this season on a minutes restriction, but that has been lifted as he’s made enough progress coming back from offseason surgery on his knee. This is a huge development given the lack of another point guard on the active roster. Alex Caruso will not suit up Monday night.
It will be interesting to see how Luke Walton handles this situation. Throughout the preseason, lineups that didn’t have either Ball or Rondo looked disorganized and rarely did anything particularly productive during their stretches together. Even without a minutes restriction, Ball won’t be able to play 48 minutes, obviously, so we’ll see how this looks.
Kuzma being in the starting lineup also will probably mean more of Michael Beasley. Kuzma has been the team’s primary backup center but as he’ll be starting, the Lakers will need Beasley to step into Kuzma’s typical role. This could potentially be Zubac, too, but he seems permanently banished to the doghouse at this point.
San Antonio comes into Monday night having won two of their first three games. Death, taxes and the Spurs making things work. They’ve lost Lonnie Walker IV and Dejounte Murray to injury, Manu Ginobli to retirement and Tony Parker to the Charlotte Hornets, but just keep chugging along.
Or as LeBron said at shootaround, “They’re not different. Pop’s still there, isn’t he? They’re not different at all.”
Tipoff for the game is 7:30 PM PT and can be watched locally on Spectrum Sportsnet as well as nationally on NBATV. You can listen to the game on ESPN 710.