After surviving against the Utah Jazz on the road on Tuesday, the Lakers return to Los Angeles on Wednesday for the biggest game of the regular season. Matched up against their crosstown rival Clippers, a victory from either side would go a long way in ensuring that side finishes above the play-in game. For the Lakers, though, the status of each of their Big Three in LeBron James, Anthony Davis and D’Angelo Russell is up in the air for varying reasons.
LeBron, who only just returned from a foot injury that had him out for a month, played 38 minutes in the Jazz overtime victory. Davis has not played a single back-to-back this season. Russell missed Tuesday’s game with left foot soreness after exiting Sunday’s win over Houston at halftime with the injury.
Despite all of that, though, all three — and a returning Mo Bamba — are active for Wednesday’s contest.
Lakers announce LeBron James, D'Angelo Russell, Anthony Davis and Mo Bamba all will play tonight— Jacob Rude (@JacobRude) April 6, 2023
Pregame, head coach Darvin Ham said that all three of Russell, LeBron and Davis were game-time decisions, along with Mo Bamba.
Darvin Ham says LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Mo Bamba and D’Angelo Russell are all game-time decisions tonight.— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) April 6, 2023
Hours before game time, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported on Sportscenter that there was “optimism” that the entire Big Three would play against the Clippers with the expectation of D’Lo making his return at the least.
On the initial injury report, the Lakers listed Russell and Mo Bamba (left ankle sprain) and Russell (left foot soreness) as probable, while marking Davis (right foot stress injury) and James (right foot soreness) as questionable. Per Shams Charania of The Athletic, both James and Davis will be gametime decisions.
FWIW - Anthony Davis has generally been listed as “probable” ahead of games since returning from his foot injury. LeBron James has been “questionable” since his return.— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) April 5, 2023
Earlier on Wednesday morning, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN spoke on “Get Up” about the status of all three players.
.@wojespn on what to expect from Anthony Davis and other Lakers stars tonight:— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) April 5, 2023
"There's real question whether [AD] would play a back-to-back. ... This is a significant, significant game for the Lakers against the Clippers tonight. Essentially, the sixth-seed is on the line." pic.twitter.com/VTMFQ3VTDh
While Davis has not played a back-to-back all season long, there was a report weeks ago that he would play this final back-to-back of the season. That likely didn’t account for the Lakers needing overtime to beat the Jazz, but it is a report that exists.
For Russell, the initial sense on his foot injury was that it was precautionary on Sunday and he could have played through it. There was some surprise he did not play on Tuesday, but perhaps he was being held out of that game so that he would be available for the Clippers game.
LeBron is the biggest wild card in this as there isn’t much to base whether he’ll be available or not on. Unlike Davis, he had been playing back-to-backs this season, but that was before this recent foot injury.
Not that it would change how he feels physically, but ESPN’s Dave McMenamin did note LeBron’s stance on resting and tempting the fate of the basketball Gods on the “Brian Windhorst and the Hoop Collective” podcast on Wednesday.
The status of all three is the biggest focus of the day leading up to the contest, and we will continue to update this post with the latest information on the Big Three as it trickles out.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.