The Los Angeles Lakers are still pushing forward without star forward LeBron James, and draw an interesting national matchup with the Houston Rockets Saturday night. While the two teams are battling through various injuries to key players, both are attempting to remain squarely in the Western Conference playoff mix.
Fortunately for the Lakers, it seems there’s somewhat of a positive outlook for James, but he will still miss the matchup with James Harden and the Rockets. As things currently stand, the Rockets are holding the No. 6 seed in the West with a 25-19 record, while the Lakers have won two straight to keep hold of the No. 8 spot.
We’re going to take a look at the Lakers roster for Saturday’s game and also breakdown the latest on James and the somewhat positive update which recently came on his status.
Lakers Roster & Starting Lineup vs. Rockets
|Center||Tyson Chandler||Ivica Zubac||JaVale McGee|
|Power Forward||Kyle Kuzma||Michael Beasley||Moritz Wagner|
|Small Forward||Brandon Ingram||Sviatoslav Mykhailliuk|
|Shooting Guard||Kentavious Caldwell-Pope||Josh Hart|
|Point Guard||Lonzo Ball||Lance Stephenson|
The Lakers have opted to switch up their starting lineup over the past few games, moving Tyson Chandler and Kentavious Caldwell Pope into the first five. This has led to JaVale McGee and Josh Hart coming off the bench.
Along with that, we saw Ivica Zubac’s emergence take center stage in an overtime win against the Oklahoma City Thunder. In that game, he played more minutes than both Chandler and McGee (28) while scoring 26 points on 12-of-14 shooting with 12 rebounds. If he continues to play at this level it may be tough to keep him off the floor and potentially even move him into a starting role.
Sticking with the trend of roster changes, with Hart moving to the bench it actually led to him playing more minutes than Caldwell-Pope in the game against the Thunder. His 33 minutes trumped Caldwell-Pope’s 23 and Hart posted a full stat line with 12 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, three steals, and one block.
Latest on LeBron James Injury
Although James will not play in Saturday’s game against the Rockets, there was at least somewhat of a positive update which came prior to the game. As ESPN’s Dave McMenamin revealed, Lakers coach Luke Walton is hopeful both James and injured point guard Rajon Rondo can take part in a full practice on Sunday.
As he also stated, the expectation is that the duo will remain out for a nationally-televised game against the Golden State Warriors the day after. Regardless, both players practicing points to their potential return being close.
Obviously, the fact James is going likely miss the Warriors matchup is less-than-ideal, but if he gets in a full practice it’ll certainly be positive news. If sidelined on Monday, that would mark game No. 14 in a row that LeBron has missed, although his return seems to be close.