Though the Lakers have listed LeBron James (thoracic muscle strain) and Anthony Davis (sore right knee) as questionable for their Christmas Day game, all signs point to the team’s two stars playing against the Clippers in the NBA’s marquee matchup at Staples Center.
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Lakers coach Frank Vogel said neither of them practiced Monday, but both are hopeful to be able to practice Tuesday morning with the rest of the team.
But James will have had five days off to recover and Davis two to get his knee back healthy before the game Wednesday night.
James sat out the game Sunday against the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center because he was recovering from the injury that was causing pain in his rib-cage area.
He had suffered the injury against the Indiana Pacers last Tuesday, but still played against the Milwaukee Bucks last Thursday.
When asked whether James would be a game-time decision, Vogel said, “We’ll see.”
“We still have a day before the game, but right now we’re listing him as questionable,” said Vogel, whose Lakers are labeled the home team. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”
Davis was injured in the third quarter Sunday after he slipped and fell on the court while defending against the Nuggets’ Paul Millsap. Davis had his knee checked out during the game, but still played 33 minutes 40 seconds against the Nuggets.
“[He’s the] same. Sore right knee, listed as questionable,” Vogel said about Davis after practice Monday. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”
As for Kyle Kuzma, who returned to play against the Nuggets after sitting out the previous five games because of a left ankle injury, Vogel said his reserve forward had no issues following the game.
“We’re hoping to have his minutes restriction raised, but I haven’t gotten a firm number yet,” Vogel said.
Kuzma played 21:48 and finished with 16 points on seven-for-15 shooting. The five games Kuzma took off that covered almost two weeks did his body good.
“Yeah, just the best I’ve felt physically and mentally,” he said. “For the most part this year, I’ve really been playing at 70%. And part of that is physically and mentally. And I think that the time off really allowed me to get all the way healthy, and I don’t really think I was moving like I did last game, like I have been in prior games. And I think it was great. I think it was great for me.”
The Lakers have lost three consecutive games and are in need of a win but will have a tough task trying to defeat the Clippers and their two stars, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
They both joined the Clippers this summer, Leonard as a free agent and George in a trade, and appeared to make the rivalry between teams with legitimate championship aspirations that much more intense.
The Clippers beat the Lakers 112-102 on opening night despite not having George in the lineup yet.
“I guess,” Kuzma said when asked about the rivalry being better now. “Ah, just a lot of hype in L.A. They’re good and we’re good. So anytime both L.A. teams are good, you’re gonna naturally have that type of a rivalry.”