Thursday night marks arguably the biggest game of the Los Angeles Lakers’ season to date. The team will match up against their in-town rivals, facing off against the Clippers who are in eighth place in the conference with a two-game lead on the purple and gold.
The Lakers will need all hands on deck to beat the Clippers and gain ground in the playoff race and it appears they may get some timely reinforcements. According to Tania Ganguli of the LA Times, the Lakers hope that LeBron James will be back in time to play in that game:
There's hope from the Lakers that LeBron James plays Thursday against the Clippers, but he's looking to get a few more practices in. His availability will depend on how his body reacts to those.
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) January 28, 2019
James has not played since suffering a strained groin in the second half of the Lakers’ Christmas Day win over the Golden State Warriors.
The Lakers will be without Lonzo Ball for the foreseeable future due to a sprained ankle. Kyle Kuzma missed Sunday’s win over the Suns due to a hip injury but may be back in time for the crucial game on Thursday. Tyson Chandler has received two straight rest days.
The Lakers have predictably struggled without James but are only four games back of the fourth seed. If LeBron returns soon, and perhaps with some trades in the next ten days to shore up the team, they could easily regain their foothold in the conference.