The Los Angeles Clippers are putting together some wins, are in the early stages of a long stretch at home and they may soon get star forward Blake Griffin back from a knee injury. The rival Lakers are headed in a different direction going into a Friday night matchup between the in-city foes at the Staples Center.
The Lakers dropped their fourth straight game overall and their sixth in a row at home with a 109-99 setback against Memphis on Wednesday. Guard Lonzo Ball (shoulder) missed his second game in a row and fellow rookie Kyle Kuzma shot 4-for-24 from the floor as the Lakers fell to 3-12 since their 8-10 start. “I just didn’t feel like we were making the extra pass consistently and Memphis did a really good job of being physical with us and they clogged up the paint,” coach Luke Walton told reporters after the loss. The Clippers had a very different experience Tuesday at Staples Center, opening up a stretch of seven straight games in Los Angeles with a 122-95 rout of Sacramento.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, Prime Ticket (Clippers), Spectrum SportsNet (Los Angeles)
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (14-19): Coach Doc Rivers said that Griffin has a chance to return Friday, well ahead of his original timetable from an MCL sprain. Guard Lou Williams has done much of the heavy lifting since Griffin went down in November and the veteran sharpshooter scored 21 points against the Kings. Williams is averaging 29.7 points while making 16-of-30 3-pointers over the last three games, and the 31-year-old went off for a season-high 42 points in a 120-115 win over the Lakers in the previous meeting Nov. 27, during which Griffin was hurt.
ABOUT THE LAKERS (11-22): While Kuzma struggled, the Lakers were given a boost in the return of forward Brandon Ingram, who scored 23 points against the Grizzlies after missing two games with a quad injury. “He’s the best we have at putting pressure on the rim,” Walton said of Ingram, who is averaging 17.5 points and 6.3 rebounds at home this season. Jordan Clarkson has made two starts in place of Ball and he made a season-high five 3-pointers en route to 22 points in Wednesday’s defeat.
1. Lakes C Andrew Bogut recorded four points and 12 fouls in 43 minutes over his last three games.
2. Clippers C DeAndre Jordan grabbed at least 15 rebounds in 10 of his last 11 outings.
3. The Clippers claimed five straight meetings.
PREDICTION: Clippers 105, Lakers 101