The Lakers were able to beat the Pistons by a comfortable margin in their only other matchup with them this season despite the fact that L.A. didn’t have LeBron James, who was nursing a groin strain at the time. While James will be healthy this time around, he won’t be on the active roster.
Last week, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported that the Lakers were considering resting James on the first or second nights of back-to-backs. In their first back-to-back since that report, James will sit out, the team announced on Friday.
LeBron (load management) is out tonight. Josh Hart is questionable. Reggie Bullock (left foot contusion) and Lance Stephenson (toe sprain) are both probable.— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) March 15, 2019
Tyson Chandler, Lonzo and Brandon Ingram are all still out against the Pistons.
With James out, the Lakers will need to find scoring elsewhere on their roster. Luckily, there are at least two players on the roster that will be happy to take James’ shots.
Detroit will be hosting a homecoming of sorts for Kyle Kuzma, who was born and raised in Flint, Michigan, and Reggie Bullock, who will be playing in the Little Caesars Arena for the first time since being traded by the Pistons at the deadline.
Bullock spent four years in Detroit, where he established himself as one of the premier 3-point shooters in the NBA. Bullock’s struggled to get his shots to fall since arriving in Los Angeles, but after Thursday’s game, he told reporters that he’s looking forward to “a win, seeing some familiar faces and kicking they ass.”
Kuzma is also hoping to put on a show for his friends and family that will be in attendance on Friday. In the Lakers’ last game against Detroit, Kuzma poured on a game-high 41 points on 16-24 shooting from the field. It’s safe to assume he wouldn’t mind having another night like that.
However, in order for Bullock and Kuzma’s scoring to mean anything for the Lakers, they have to try and replicate the success they had defensively against the Pistons in January. In that game, they held All-Stars Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond to a combined 22 points and 16 rebounds. Drummond had all 16 rebounds.
That’s not going to be easy to do again, but they’ve shown they’re capable of doing it before. Let’s hope they can do it again.
Or, they could not do that and have a better shot at this.
Embrace the tank. Love the tank. Be the tank.
Tip-off is at 4 p.m. PST on Spectrum SportsNet.
All quotes transcribed via 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 Christian on Twitter at @RadRivas.