• The Lakers play a road game in their own arena against the Clippers on Wednesday as both teams look to close out their seasons on a positive note. This final matchup lends a certain element of closure as the two teams opened the year against each other October 19 in a game that resulted in 108-92 Clipper win.

    The two teams would argue that they both had successful seasons with the Lakers showing tremendous growth from the previous year (winning at least eight more games than the previous year) and the Clippers beginning a rebuilding phase with a winning record. Both teams would have finished with more impressive records if they hadn’t been derailed by the injury bug. Each team has players that want to leave their mark on this campaign before they embark on offseasons that are likely to shape the future of each respective franchise.

    Julius Randle took the microphone on Tuesday night to thank Laker fans and said “look forward to seeing you next season.”  Randle, the only Laker to suit up for all 82 games (should he play Wednesday), has had a breakout season heading into restricted free agency. The decision to re-sign him will be one of the keys to the Lakers’ offseason and future. He heads into the last game of the season averaging 16.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists while shooting 55.7 percent from the field. However, his stats were more impressive once he joined the starting lineup as well as showing the ability to pick up the slack for his injured teammates — he showed tremendous growth in his skill set and maturity.

    Speaking of maturity, the story of Tuesday’s game was 32-year old Andre Ingram making his NBA debut after spending 10 years in the developmental leagues. The crowd, aware of his story, cheered him from the onset but no one could have predicted how well this fairy tale would develop. Ingram scored 10 points in his first seven minutes and finished with 19 points, three rebounds, one assist, one steal and three blocks on 6-of-8 shooting from the field. His transcendent performance prompted the Laker faithful to serenade him with MVP chants during one of his trips to the line. After 384 games in the minor leagues, he played an excellent game in front of his wife and family, treating Laker fans to a truly inspirational story to close out their season.

    Another fan favorite, Josh Hart, played another stellar game with 20 points, seven rebounds and two steals while playing a game-high 40 minutes. Hart, the No. 30 overall pick in this year’s draft, has been a revelation for the Lakers, providing solid defense, 3-point shooting and leadership.

    Tonight may be the last time Laker fans get to root for many players who have expiring contracts including the aforementioned Randle, Brook Lopez, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and many of the G-League players who are helping to fill out the depleted ranks at the moment.

    The Clippers may have plenty of roster turnover this offseason including lifetime Clipper DeAndre Jordan, who has a player option and may choose to opt out of his contract. The Clippers were able to sign Lou Williams to an extension earlier this season to ensure that their leading scorer will return to help continue their rebuild next season. Williams, a former Laker, had a career year averaging 22.6 points, 2.5 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.1 steals. Unfortunately he will not take the court Wednesday due to an ankle injury.

    In his stead, Sindarius Thornwell, who exploded for 20 points, five rebounds, seven assists, two steals and two blocks in his last outing, will get a chance to showcase his game at Staples Center. Thornwell played in the Laker organization earlier this year and may look for some revenge against the franchise that gave up on him. Hopefully Laker players got a chance to view his monster dunk over DeAndre Liggins and make an aggressive defensive play or seek shelter if he approaches the rim.

    Key Stats

    -The Lakers enter the game with a defensive rating of 105.7 (13th), a significant improvement from last year when they finished last in the NBA with a rating of 110.6 (Suns are last in the NBA this year with the same defensive rating of 110.6). The Clippers’ 107.6 defensive rating (19th) this year is down from the previous year when they earned a 105.8 rating. Perhaps one can attribute the change to losing Chris Paul, one of the league’s elite defenders at the point guard position.

    -Kyle Kuzma finishes the season as the first Laker rookie in history to finish with at least 1200 points, 450 rebounds and 150 3-pointers. The last Laker to achieve that feat at all was Kobe Bryant.

    -Brandon Ingram is the only player under 20 years of age to average 16 points, five rebounds and three assists — portending to an exciting future for the young Laker.

    Projected Starting Lineups

    Lakers

    Alex Caruso (PG)

    Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SG)

    Josh Hart (SF)

    Julius Randle (PF)

    Brook Lopez (C)

    Clippers

    Tyrone Wallace (PG)

    Wesley Johnson (SG)

    C.J. Williams (SF)

    Tobias Harris (PF)

    DeAndre Jordan (C)

    Injury Report

    Lakers

    Brandon Ingram (concussion) – OUT

    Lonzo Ball (knee contusion) – OUT

    Kyle Kuzma (ankle) – OUT

    Isaiah Thomas (hip) – OUT

    Luol Deng (ankle) – OUT

    Clippers

    Austin Rivers (elbow) – PROBABLE

    Patrick Beverley (knee) – OUT

    Milos Teodosic (foot) – OUT

    Jawun Evans (abdomen) – OUT

    Danilo Gallinari (hand) – OUT

    Avery Bradley (groin) – OUT

    Lou Williams (ankle) – OUT

    Broadcast Information

    Time: 7:30 PM PST, 10:30 PM EST

    Television: FOX SPORTS PRIME TICKET, SPECSN/SPECD, TSN1,

    Radio: AM 570 LA SPORTS, 710 AM ESPN, 1330 AM ESPN DEPORTES

Fantasy News

  • Kawhi Leonard
    SF, Los Angeles Clippers

    Updating a previous report, Kawhi Leonard (knee maintenance) has officially been ruled out of Monday's game vs. the Pacers.

    This was the expectation all along. The only surprise here is how many rhetorical acrobatics the Clippers have performed with his injury designation, from "load management" to "knee soreness" and now "knee maintenance." The truth is that the Clippers' brass acquired Kawhi Leonard's services on the condition that he alone could dictate his availability for regular season games and Kawhi has understandably taken advantage of his leverage. He's annoying to have in fantasy, but he's earned the right as one of the best players on the planet and he hasn't even met his upside this season, sporting a career-low 44% field goal shooting. When that number returns to the mean, watch out.

    Source: NBA Injury Repot

  • JA Morant
    PG, Memphis Grizzlies

    Ja Morant will play on Monday after missing over a week with back spasms.

    Morant has returned quickly given his initial week-to-week status and will not be on a minutes limit. Tyus Jones carries minimal fantasy value as long as Morant stays healthy.

    Source: Grizzlies PR on Twitter

  • Jae Crowder
    PF, Memphis Grizzlies

    Jae Crowder is considered questionable for Monday's game against the Warriors due to illness.

    Grayson Allen and Solomon Hill would need to step up if Crowder is unable to play. Crowder has averaged 10.9 points and 5.8 rebounds so far this season, but his value could dip when Kyle Anderson is ready to return.

    Source: Grizzlies PR on Twitter

  • Marvin Bagley III
    PF, Sacramento Kings

    Marvin Bagley has a chance to return from his thumb fracture on Monday against the Rockets and is being listed as questionable.

    He's been participating in full contact practice for a week now and the "questionable " has followed him around for each of the last two games, which he missed. This would not be an ideal matchup for Bagley to return, but there's a chance. Upon his return, he'll immediately benefit from the usage vacuum created by De'Aaron Fox's injury, but he'll also lose center minutes to an emergent Richaun Holmes. And deservedly so, as Holmes has been the Kings' most valuable player during the past injury-riddled month. Check back in closer to tipoff for a final update on his status.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Fred VanVleet
    PG, Toronto Raptors

    Fred VanVleet (right knee contusion) is being listed as questionable against the Bulls on Monday after leaving Sunday's game.

    Even if he doesn't play tonight, it's still a relief to hear that the injury wasn't serious after he was ruled out within minutes of suffering the injury on Sunday. VanVleet has been a top 10 contributor in both assists and steals this season, two categories which don't figure to be negatively impacted by the Lowry's return to the lineup given their symbiotic roles on this Raptors squad. His current top 20 pace isn't sustainable, but he's positioning himself as one of the best draft day steals of the season.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Dario Saric
    PF, Phoenix Suns

    Dario Saric (lower back soreness) and Mikal Bridges (left finger sprain) are both listed as probable for Monday's game against the Wolves.

    We're listing them together here because there's never too much to read into when it comes to injury reports out of Phoenix. The team tends to overuse their "probable" tags. Both of these players played in the last one and the more immediate concerns with their value are the Suns' big men returning to the lineup in the near future. Aron Baynes' and Deandre Ayton's insertions into the lineup would mean fewer small lineups with Oubre at PF, which would close down opportunities on the wing and in the middle for Bridges and Saric, respectively. The clocks are ticking on their standard leagues relevance.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Damion Lee
    SG, Golden State Warriors

    Damion Lee, who has missed the last month with a fracture in his left hand, is listed as probably on Monday vs. the Grizzlies.

    Outside of Klay Thompson and Steph Curry, the Warriors inching closer to full health. There's really no takeaway here except that Lee is perhaps yet another young Warriors' wing you should have on your radar. Glenn Robinson and Alex Burks have stepped up in his absence, but where the value will come from in this rotation is impossible to predict on a night-to-night basis.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Marcus Smart
    PG, Boston Celtics

    Updating a previous report, Marcus Smart (eye infection) is not listed on the injury report for Monday's game against the Cavs.

    This is a quick turnaround. Smart went from possibly out to off the injury report entirely in the span of a few hours. Check back in closer to tipoff in case this was a mistake, but the latest signs point to Smart being active despite dealing with a litany of injuries and illnesses in the past few weeks.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Malcolm Brogdon
    PG, Indiana Pacers

    Malcolm Brogdon (sore right hand) participated in all of the drills during Monday's practice and is likely to play Monday night against the Clippers.

    His injury was never too serious and they exercised caution last night against a weak Knicks team. He'll be back against much stiffer competition tonight vs. the Clippers, who should remain competitive even without Kawhi Leonard in the lineup. Brogdon's cooled down a bit after his hot start, due in part to a litany of injuries, but he was never going to fall too far down the rankings since his hot start included a career-low FG% which he has since corrected. Fire him up to night and don't fret too much about Victor Oladipo's eventual return. Brogdon is set up to continue to be the Pacers' best player for the duration of the season, barring injury.

    Source: Jeremiah Johnson on Twitter

  • Deandre Ayton
    C, Phoenix Suns

    The Suns have a plan to "ease back" Deandre Ayton into game action upon his return from a 25-game suspension.

    No explicit mention of a minutes restriction was made, but that's the implication here despite the fact that Ayton has been allowed to practice with the team to keep up his conditioning during the suspension. The expectation, given how well they've played without him, is that Aron Baynes will retain a large role when Ayton returns, and the possibility of playing them together was also floated. Of course, that would be disastrous and it's unlikely that the Suns pursue extended runs with two-center lineups given how well they've played with small lineups. Still, this is a reminder for those of you who have been staring at Ayton at the top of the player rankings for over a month that his ceiling may be hard-capped by the presence of Baynes.

    Source: AZ Central