After coming up short in Utah on Tuesday, the shorthanded Los Angeles Lakers will regroup and try to upset the playoff hopeful San Antonio Spurs at home Wednesday.
The last time these two sides met, Lonzo Ball had arguably his most clutch performance of his young NBA career, taking over in the fourth quarter of a game the Lakers were once down by 17. The Lakers would go on to win the game 116-112, putting them up 2-0 in the season series.
Unfortunately, it’s unlikely Ball will be with the team Wednesday in Los Angeles. Ball (knee contusion) is listed as doubtful on the Lakers’ injury report, while Brandon Ingram (concussion protocol), Isaiah Thomas (right hip surgery), and Luol Deng (sprained left ankle) are out. Yes, you read that right: Deng injured his ankle playing basketball.
The Spurs, on the other hand, only have one name on the injury report, but it’s one that holds significant weight in the NBA. Kawhi Leonard will not be available for San Antonio on Wednesday as he works his way back from ... uh ... a quadricep injury?
Leonard has not suited up for the Spurs since Jan. 13. Despite this, the Spurs have managed without their All-Star forward.
Heading into the home stretch of the season, the Spurs currently vacate the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference and can leapfrog the Utah Jazz in the standings with a win on Wednesday. With Los Angeles down more than a handful of men, there’s a good chance they’re the No. 4 seed by the end of the night.
On paper, the Spurs aren’t the best team, but head Gregg Popovich has a history of getting the best out of his players when it counts. This season has been no different.
If the Lakers want to upset the Spurs and snap their three-game losing streak, they’re going to have to figure out how to play at fast pace without Ball running the show. With the available talent on their roster, the Lakers can’t do much offensively, but they can outrun. just about any team in the league.
They also need to keep the Spurs off of the offensive glass. San Antonio is is sixth in the NBA in offensive rebounding, led by LaMarcus Aldridge, who is fifth in the league in offensive rebounding. Aldridge is the Spurs’ primary source of offense with Leonard sidelined, so the Lakers need to do their best to contain him.
It’s not going to be easy, but if the Lakers play with the same effort they played with Tuesday in Utah, it should be an enjoyable game at the very least.
Time: 7:30 PT
TV: ESPN, Spectrum SportsNet