April 4, 2018, 7:02 pm
The Lakers (33-44) host the San Antonio Spurs (45-33) on Wednesday as both teams play the second leg of back-to-back sets.
Los Angeles is just 2-8 in their last 10 games; due primarily to a rash of injuries that have left them depleted and sapped them of the momentum they developed earlier this calendar year. Among those that have fallen victim to the injury bug recently are Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Isaiah Thomas.
That leaves the Lakers in a position where they have been forced to start Alex Caruso, who managed only three points and two assists across 15 unproductive minutes in Tuesday’s loss to the Jazz.
In the absence of any point guard production or bodies, the Lakers have been forced to rely on their frontcourt players even more, leading to Julius Randle spending some time at point guard. Randle responded with nine assists but also committed five turnovers, a product of playing out of position and without his usual supporting cast. He has had a breakout season while averaging 21.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists over the last month while shooting 55.9 percent from the field. Randle should have a slightly easier time against the Spurs Friday as their big men are not renowned defensive players and do not possess the length, quickness and athletic ability of Rudy Gobert, who he had to face Tuesday.
The Lakers have also been forced to rely heavily on rookie forward Kyle Kuzma, who has delivered for the most part, contributing 21.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.7 3-pointers over the last two weeks. He may be the Laker with the best matchup tonight as the Spurs have been going small of late, starting Danny Green at the small forward position. Although Green is an excellent defender, Kuzma may be able to exploit his significant size advantage to create for himself and his teammates.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and his variable ability to shoot, will be one of the key’s to tonight’s outcome. His production has fluctuated of late — a hardship for the team as he is one of the only remaining quality players at guard. Caldwell-Pope went 0-of-13 from 3-point range during the Lakers’ recent homestand before catching fire in Utah en route to leading the Lakers with 28 points on 5-of-9 from 3-point range. His ability to stretch the court is paramount as the Lakers lack Ingram’s ability to slash to the basket and Ball’s ability to augment their transition game.
The Spurs’ offense centers around All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge, who is coming off a 35-point, nine-rebound, two-steal and three-block masterpiece against the Clippers. All of his efforts were in vain as the Spurs blew a 19-point lead in a game that dropped them into a tie for the fourth seed in the Western Conference standings. The Spurs will need every drop of production that he can muster as they battle for playoff positioning.
San Antonio has been using a starting backcourt of Dejounte Murray and Patty Mills of late — a double point guard pairing that could give the Lakers fits due to their dearth of healthy guards. It will be interesting to see if coach Luke Walton tries to insert Josh Hart into the starting lineup to create size mismatches for the Lakers to exploit rather than let the Spurs roster dictate the tone of the game.
-For the second night in a row the Lakers will face an elite defensive team as the Spurs own a 102.0 defensive rating (second) compared to the Lakers 105.6 defensive rating (13th).
-Free throw shooting continues to be an Achilles heel for the Lakers as they missed 12 attempts last night in a game that they lost by only seven points. San Antonio is shooting 77.2 percent (15th) on the season in contrast to a Los Angeles team that is making only 70.7 percent (30th) of their tries at the charity stripe.
-The Spurs play a much more deliberate game, only averaging 97.21 possessions per 48 minutes (29th) compared to 102.72 possessions per 48 minutes for the Lakers (first). If the Lakers get bogged down in a halfcourt offensive battle with the Spurs they are unlikely to emerge victorious.
-Another key metric is turnovers as the well-coached Spurs only average 13.3 miscues per game (fifth) vs. the Lakers who turn the ball over 15.7 times per game (28th).
Projected Starting Rosters
Alex Caruso (PG)
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SG)
Kyle Kuzma (SF)
Julius Randle (PF)
Brook Lopez (C)
Patty Mills (PG)
Dejounte Murray (SG)
Kyle Anderson (SF)
Pau Gasol (PF)
LaMarcus Aldridge (C)
Lonzo Ball (knee) – OUT
Brandon Ingram (concussion) – OUT
Isaiah Thomas (hip) – OUT
Luol Deng (ankle) – OUT
Kawhi Leonard (quad) – OUT
Time: 7:30 PM PST, 10:30 PM EST
Television: SPECSN/SPECD, FSSW, ESPN
Radio: 710 AM ESPN, 330 AM ESPN DEPORTES, WOAI 1200AM
April 19, 2019, 1:29 amLou Williams - G - Los Angeles Clippers
Lou Williams was held in check in Thursday's 105-132 Game 3 loss to the Warriors with 16 points on 4-of-11 shooting to go with two rebounds, six assists and a 3-pointer.
It was clear from the beginning that the Warriors' defensive scheme would revolve around making life difficult for Williams and it worked. His scoring line doesn't look too bad thanks to garbage time, but Williams couldn't get anything going from the moment he checked into the game. They wanted to give Sweet Lou less control of the ball and force him to rely on his teammates and unfortunately, his teammates came up short. If Lou can get some outside help from anyone else besides Montrezl Harrell, the Clippers have an outside shot, but if not, this series will be over shortly.
April 19, 2019, 1:29 amAndrew Bogut - C - Golden State Warriors
Andrew Bogut led the Warriors in rebounding in Game 3 with 14 boards to go with eight points on 4-of-5 shooting with five dimes, a steal and a block on Thursday.
Bogut looked sharp from the jump and if he can continue to play like this, their title odds will barely take a hit. DeMarcus Cousins (quad) is most likely out for the remainder of the playoffs, but the Warriors starters are well in tune with Bogut and there's so much talent on this team that all he has to do is stay within his role and do the dirty work which is something he's used to.
April 19, 2019, 1:28 amMontrezl Harrell - F/C - Los Angeles Clippers
Montrezl Harrell scored 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting with four rebounds and two assists in Thursday's Game 3 against the Warriors.
Harrell was able to score, but he couldn't keep up in the pick-and-roll with Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry. It's a tall task for anyone and tonight it led to a bunch of layups for Andrew Bogut and Kevon Looney as Harrell isn't a bad defender, but he's nowhere near the level you need to be to guard the Warriors.
April 19, 2019, 1:27 amDanilo Gallinari - F - Los Angeles Clippers
Danilo Gallinari struggled in Thursday's Game 3 with nine points on 2-of-13 shooting with six rebounds and three assists.
Gallo couldn't get anything going against the Warriors and if the Clippers are going to have any chance in this series they're going to need a lot more from him. He went 0-for-8 from deep to compound his struggles within the arc as well. The team's offense is entirely predicated around Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell but that won't be enough to take four games off the Warriors.
April 19, 2019, 1:27 amJaMychal Green - F - Los Angeles Clippers
JaMychal Green scored 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting with five rebounds, an assist and three 3-pointers in Thursday's Game 3.
Green played much better than Ivica Zubac (17 minutes, 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting with 15 rebounds, a steal and a block) tonight although the box score doesn't show that. Zubac became unplayable after the first seven minutes of the game and Rivers had much better results with Green in the game and Zubac's stats were all in garbage time when the game was out of hand.
April 19, 2019, 1:23 amKevin Durant - F - Golden State Warriors
Kevin Durant responded to a poor outing in Game 2 by dropping 38 points on 14-of-23 shooting while adding four rebounds, seven assists, a steal, a block and three 3-pointers in Thursday's Game 3 win over the Clippers.
He had a bad Game 2. but Durant came out firing immediately in Game 3. There was no way that the Clippers were going to stop him and tonight he came out and looked like he actually cared and enjoyed his teammates which is bad news for the league. He had 27 points at halftime and as long as he and Stephen Curry are healthy, the Warriors should be the favorites to come out of the West.
April 19, 2019, 1:22 amAndre Iguodala - G/F - Golden State Warriors
Andre Iguodala led the Warriors bench with 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting with two rebounds, three assists, two blocks and three 3-pointers in Thursday's Game 3 win.
Iguodala was nailing his triples tonight and had a bench-high plus-17 in tonight's game. If he can knock down his outside shot, it's just extra as his main role is being the glue guy and playing solid defense.
April 19, 2019, 1:20 amStephen Curry - G - Golden State Warriors
Stephen Curry had a short night in Thursday's Game 3 against the Clippers, scoring 21 points in 20 minutes to go with his five rebounds, one assist and four triples.
He went 7-for-11 from the floor and hit his first four 3-pointers of the night. Curry dealt with foul trouble in the beginning of the game, but he was having his way with the Clippers tonight. He came out hot and had himself a great night even with Kevin Durant taking full control early.
April 19, 2019, 1:20 amKlay Thompson - G - Golden State Warriors
Klay Thompson had a quiet night in 33 minutes of action in Thursday's Game 3 with 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting while adding two rebounds, two assists, two blocks and two triples.
Thompson goes back to a familiar role now without DeMarcus Cousins (quad). You're in good shape if he's your third best scorer and there's eventually going to be a game where he goes nuclear.
April 19, 2019, 1:20 amDraymond Green - F - Golden State Warriors
Draymond Green scored eight points on 3-of-10 shooting with six rebounds, 10 assists, a steal and two blocks in Game 3 on Thursday against the Clippers.
Green didn't score at all in the first half but the Warriors were still up by 21 points which is a luxury he has playing on this team. The Warriors are by far the superior team and when they're locked in defensively like tonight there's almost no stopping them. Green is the engine that runs this defense and is also the primary facilitator on a team with some of the best scorers this game has ever seen so it'll be a rarity to have him in double-digit scoring numbers.