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Lakers vs. Clippers Preview: Pressure mounting

Can the Lakers get a much-needed win against the Clippers before internal and external pressure really starts to take a toll on the team?

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NBA, Lakers, Clippers Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers are 2-8, and things have been just about as ugly and miserable as the record reflects.

Their most recent loss came Monday at Utah, the second game of a back-to-back as well as the second matchup with the positively surprising Jazz in the past week. Now, the Lakers will look to break their three-game losing streak (which would’ve been four if it wasn’t for Matt Ryan) “on the road” against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Here’s what to keep in mind for this upcoming matchup against their rivals across the hallway.

Boiling over

Needless to say, pressure has to be building up for this Lakers team to quickly turn things around and start climbing back up to a respectable record that is at least around a .500 clip.

The Lakers will catch a break towards the end of November with much easier scheduling, highlighted by three games against the Spurs in a week’s span. But for now, the team and its sixth-toughest schedule so far will continue, first with the Clippers on Wednesday.

Luckily, the Lakers will get LeBron James back in the starting lineup after missing Monday’s loss vs. the Jazz. They’ll also have Patrick Beverley back into the lineup after catching the same non-COVID illness that has plagued LeBron, Wenyen Gabriel, and Lonnie Walker. Beverley has missed the past two games.

And that, well... that’s about all I’ve got for positive developments. After the two wins in three games that came against the Nuggets and Pelicans last week, the mounting losses may have done what was inevitable:

Any good vibes that were had, may be gone. And with the loss of those good vibes, comes a whole lot of external and internal pressure to figure this stuff out.

Here are some of the headlines that have transpired over the last 48 hours:

  • Anthony Davis trade murmurs started
  • AD, for the second time this season, looked dejected while talking about how this all sucks when talking to reporters, this time after Monday’s loss vs. the Jazz.
  • Darvin Ham, unprompted after that same game, talked about the Lakers’ salary cap and luxury tax situation, with a full quote that basically amounted to “I think we’re screwed.”
  • The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported Tuesday that the Lakers would be “prudent” with dealing their two first round picks that are available to be traded, with that prudency increasing with each loss.

That last bullet point may be the most important one, as the only thing that can really vault this Lakers team into anything resembling “championship contention” is a trade involving Russell Westbrook and either, or both, of those first round picks.

The Lakers have completed half of the reported 20 games that Rob Pelinka and the front office wanted to see before executing one of these Westbrook trades. If Pelinka is becoming more and more resistant to doing that trade as more and more losses pile up, then the Lakers can’t fall flat in three more games before they play a couple of bad teams in the Pistons and Spurs.

The wins have to start coming now, beginning with Wednesday’s game against the Clippers. If they don’t, then sure... the pressure will dissipate. However, that relief would also come with an incredibly sad reality: The reality that the Lakers wasted another season of LeBron James and Anthony Davis before it even started.

Notes and Updates:

  • As previously stated, the Lakers should have LeBron (probable - left foot soreness) and Beverley (not on injury report) back in the starting lineup. However, Lonnie Walker will remain questionable (the same non-COVID illness). He missed the trip to Utah for the Lakers’ game on Monday.
  • Thomas Bryant and Dennis Schroder (UCL repairs) will remain out, while Scotty Pippen Jr. and Cole Swider are with the South Bay Lakers.
  • The Clippers will be without Kawhi Leonard (injury management - right knee), Brandon Boston Jr., Jason Preston, and Moussa Diabate (all with Clippers’ G-League team). Kawhi played in the season opener against the Lakers, missed his next game, played against the Suns in the following game, and then has not played in eight consecutive games since.

The Lakers and Clippers will tip off at 7 p.m. PT. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN with the local broadcast coming to you on Spectrum SportsNet. All nationally televised NBA games can be watched on SlingTV.

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

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