With LeBron James, Rajon Rondo and now Lonzo Ball sidelined, the Los Angeles Lakers will take on the Golden State Warriors, who with the addition of DeMarcus Cousins now have five 2018 All-Stars in their starting lineup. Pretty tough to have a good feeling about this one.
In Cousins’ first game back from the torn achilles he suffered last season, the Warriors blew out the Los Angeles Clippers, 112-94. Because if there’s something Golden State needed, it’s definitely another All-NBA-caliber player.
Injuries are never welcomed, but Ball’s sprained ankle comes at a particularly frustrating time — as Luke Walton pointed out — because of how well he had been playing before he turned his ankle.
With both the Lakers’ point guards out Monday night, Luke Walton announced that Brandon Ingram would play the role of starting point guard. Ingram actually fared pretty well last season when he was asked to do this, showcasing all the talent that got him drafted second overall. Ingram started at point guard for 10 games last season and averaged 18.6 points and 5.2 assists in the role.
Two-way contract point guard Alex Caruso — who the Lakers called up from the G League over the weekend — should probably get some run as well, but Walton has been reluctant to go that route even given injury issues earlier this season.
So, Walton will have to choose between Caruso and Lance Stephenson as the team’s primary creator when Ingram isn’t on the court. One thing’s for sure in Monday’s game specifically: The Lakers can’t afford Ingram to get into any kind of foul trouble with the lack of depth behind him. This will be quite the ask, as he often spends chunks of time guarding Kevin Durant when the Lakers take on the Warriors.
While it’s hard to see the Lakers winning this one, obviously, Walton’s stance in these situations has been pretty consistent this year. He wants to see them compete no matter who is on the court. This isn’t too much to ask for, but the talent gap in this game is about as daunting as it gets.
The NBA can’t be thrilled that so many Lakers will be out Monday night, as this matchup with Golden State will serve as TNT’s night cap to the annual tradition of NBA games being played all day on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Tip-off on Monday night is 7:30 PM PST.
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