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Lakers vs. Hornets Preview: Will LeBron James get up to play LaMelo Ball?

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LeBron James seems to relish matchups with high draft picks. Will Thursday be any different?

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Charlotte Hornets v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

There have been moments throughout NBA history where the league’s future stars have gone up against the best of the best, like when Kobe Bryant played his first game against Michael Jordan in 1996 or when LeBron James’ first game against Bryant in 2004. Unfortunately, we won’t be getting another one of those moments when the Los Angeles Lakers host LaMelo Ball and the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday.

Despite Frank Vogel’s promising comments about Alex Caruso’s status on Monday, the Lakers have listed Caruso as out with a mild concussion. Thursday will mark the third game Caruso’s missed due to the concussion he suffered against the Indiana Pacers on Friday.

So, instead of getting a memorable matchup between Ball, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, and Caruso, the face of the NBA, we’ll have to a settle for a game between Ball and James, who Ball’s brother Lonzo played with during the 2018-19 season. If that doesn’t get you out of your seat, don’t worry — you’re not alone.

Ahead of Thursday’s game, Ball was asked whether he was excited to play against James for the first time and his response was “not really.” Now imagine that same question with Caruso, who’s never lost an NBA Finals series, in place of James. You’d likely get a completely different answer.

Fortunately for Ball, he’ll have one more opportunity to play Caruso before the season ends on April 13, when the Lakers will visit Charlotte for the first and only time this season. For everyone’s sake, let’s hope Caruso is available then.

The Lakers and Hornets will tip-off at 7:30 p.m. PT, and the game will be broadcast on NBA TV nationally and Spectrum Sportsnet locally.

Notes and updates

  • Kostas Antetokounmpo (health and safety protocols), Alex Caruso (mild concussion), Anthony Davis (right calf strain), Jared Dudley (right MCL tear) and Marc Gasol (health and safety protocols) are out.
  • LeBron James (sore left ankle) and Markieff Morris (right knee contusion) are probable.

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