After Friday night’s commanding victory against the Atlanta Hawks marked their longest winning streak of the season, the Lakers will get barely any rest as they’re back at it today on the road against the Sacramento Kings.
This will also mark their sixth back-to-back stint of the season, a scenario in which they’ve lost four out of their previous five games on the second night. And to say that the purple and gold will be at a disadvantage is an understatement, considering the plethora of health issues this team is currently dealing with.
Without arguably their two best role players in the guard position for the next two weeks or even more, on top of Anthony Davis’ absence, Los Angeles will have to weather the storm moving forward without Austin Reaves and Lonnie Walker IV’s services. It’s unfortunate that this seemingly happens whenever they finally have some sort of momentum and rhythm going, but the Lakers will have to once again continue to do what they’ve been doing all season — demand more out of whoever is on the court to step up in the absence of their teammates.
Lakers Depth currently:— Trevor Lane (@Trevor_Lane) January 6, 2023
G- Schroder, Beverley, Westbrook, Nunn, Christie
F- LeBron, Toscano-Anderson, S. Brown
C- Bryant, Gabriel
Davis, Reaves, Walker, T. Brown all out. Jones questionable.
It was LeBron James who carried the load last week with back-to-back 40-plus point performances. It’s also been Thomas Bryant, Dennis Schröder and partly Russell Westbrook who have been solid in their own right. Unfortunately for them, their workload has gotten even heavier with the new batch of injuries. L.A.‘s band-aid solution, for now, is picking up potential help on 10-day contracts, with the recent addition of our old friend’s Shannon Brown’s younger brother Sterling Brown as the first player to get a tryout.
And speaking of band-aids, it seems to be the route Rob Pelinka and the rest of the organization’s brainstrust is searching for instead of any significant (or even marginal) trade moves. Will this be enough to help the Lakers tread water while they continue going through the never-ending wait to get healthy? Or was this just merely to show that there’s some productivity going on in that front office? Or both?
At the very least, this basketball product that Pelinka and co. have put together may have its flaws and can be considered mediocre at best, but what’s been part of their identity this season is their ability to tough out and battle through adversity. The Lakers have been competitive and are on a four-game winning streak for a reason. In the past three games, several key members have stepped up and contributed to the team’s overall success in this stretch without their best player this season, and they’ll have to keep doing exactly that as their injury report continues to get longer.
We’ll see if this team can extend their longest winning streak of the season and keep up the good work against the Kings in a few hours.
Notes and Updates
- The Lakers are facing a Kings team (20-17) that is currently sitting in the fifth seed of the Western Conference. As we realized two weeks ago when the Lakers were blown out by this team, this is the best Kings roster we’ve seen in years, and possibly decades. They’re second in the league in points per game (117.9), but struggle mightily on defense where they rank 24th in the league. Look out for De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis and our old friend Malik Monk to control the team’s offense.
- Circling back to the point about several key members of the Lakers stepping up, Kendrick Nunn (who had a season-high of 23 points in Friday’s contest against the Hawks) finally broke out of his slump. Aside from James’ 25 points, 7 rebounds and 10 assists to lead the purple and gold to victory, Schröder (21 points), Bryant (19 points) and Westbrook (18 points), Max Christie (eight points in 16 minutes, including vital 3-point shots down the stretch) all came up big for the Lakers.
- Both teams have yet to submit their injury report for tonight’s showdown. But we already know Anthony Davis (right foot stress injury), Austin Reaves (left hamstring strain) and Lonnie Walker IV (left knee tendinitis) will be out. Expect Troy Brown Jr. (left quad strain) and Damian Jones (right toe soreness) to be a game-time decision again on the second night of the back-to-back after having that status on Friday.
- As for the Kings, Monk (left calf soreness) reportedly didn’t practice on Friday. His status remains day-to-day.
- For news around the league, the Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns and Portland Trail Blazers (teams above the Lakers in the conference standings) are currently in the middle of their own losing streaks. This is obviously good news for the Lakers, who have the second-longest winning streak in the league next to the Memphis Grizzlies (5 games).
The Lakers and Kings will tip off at 7 p.m. PT on Saturday. The game will only be televised locally on Spectrum SportsNet.