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Lakers vs. Kings Preview: Who will step up with Avery Bradley sidelined?

The Lakers will try and slow down Sacramento’s menacing backcourt without Avery Bradley.

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Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers will host the Sacramento Kings for the first time this season on Friday without their starting point guard, Avery Bradley, to contain Sacramento’s backcourt tandem of De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield.

Bradley will be sidelined for Friday’s game with a a hairline fracture in a non-weight bearing bone in his right leg, and won’t be back with the team for at least another week. Until then, the Lakers know they’ll have to step up and maintain the defensive edge Bradley has given the team this season.

After shootaround on Friday, Lakers head coach coach Frank Vogel talked about how important Bradley has been to the team’s success on the defensive end, and how much his presence will be missed.

“I’m more disappointed for Avery than anything,” Vogel said. “He’s really enjoying this team and this role that he has on this team. He’s been a tone-setter for us on the defensive end, and we have the best defense in the league in large part because of him and the tone that he sets ... He’ll be missed.”

However, Vogel understands that the Lakers still have a job to do, and he expects his team to stay competitive on defense even without one of their best defensive guards.

“The one game Avery missed was the Chicago game, and that was probably our worst defensive game,” Vogel said. “The challenge put onto our guys this morning was that with Avery out, we can’t allow that to let us slip at all with our defensive proficiency. We’ve got to have a next man up mindset, and we’ve all got to work to guard and make sure we continue to play at a high level.”

LeBron James also called on his teammates to take on the challenge of filling in for Bradley.

“Next man up,” James said. “That’s what our depth is all about, having next man up. So obviously it’s a tough blow for us this early in the season, as well as Avery has been playing. The way he’s been setting the tone defensively.

“But it’s next man up, and we’ll hunker down until it gets better.”

The two players that will have the most pressure to step up in Bradley’s absence are Alex Caruso and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. In terms of defensive rating, Caruso and Caldwell-Pope are the two best guards on the roster, but they’ve struggled from the field thus far, shooting 35.8% and 37%, respectively. With Bradley sidelined, they’ll have the chance to show they can handle a bigger offensive role while playing strong defense starting on Friday against the Kings.

The Kings got off to a disappointing 0-5 start this season after finishing as the No. 9 seed last season. Since then, though, they’ve managed to win four of their last five games and are just two games back of a .500 record. During that time, they’ve shot 41.1% from behind the arc as a team with Bogdan Bodganovic knocking down his 3-point attempts at a 50% clip.

Remember him?

The Lakers will be hoping for a different result tonight.

Notes and Updates

  • Frank Vogel said that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope went through shootaround and will likely play tonight. He also said he’s hopeful Anthony Davis will play.
  • Rajon Rondo has had his minutes restriction upped to 20 minutes.
  • Vogel declined to reveal his starters for the game at shootaround.
  • The Lakers will face former head coach Luke Walton for the first time tonight, and at shootaround, James said a felt Walton did the best he could in less-than-ideal circumstances with the team.

Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. PST on Spectrum SportsNet.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @RadRivas.

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