The Los Angeles Lakers are struggling at the defensive end while dropping five in a row and are about to embark on a four-game Eastern Conference road trip. The Lakers will try to snap their slide and avenge an earlier loss when they kick off the trip by visiting the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday.
Los Angeles is allowing an average of 118.6 points during its slide and dropped a 118-95 decision at home to the Houston Rockets on Sunday. “I will continue to preach to you that it is not about wins and losses to us,” Lakers coach Luke Walton told reporters of his young team. “It still burns and hurts to lose, and it is tough to sleep after losses, but it doesn’t hurt as bad this year because I can see where this team is going and the individual progress that is being made.” The 76ers don’t have any trouble seeing the progress that is being made by their organization, and a 115-101 home loss to the Phoenix Suns on Monday doesn’t change the team’s bright outlook. “The great thing about the NBA is you always have another game,” veteran shooting guard JJ Redick told the team’s website. “This is a fairly long turnaround in today’s NBA. You got to move onto the next play, got to move onto the next game.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, TNT, Spectrum SportsNet (Los Angeles)
ABOUT THE LAKERS (8-15): No. 2 overall pick Lonzo Ball is dealing with high expectations and tightness in his calves, both of which might be hampering his play. Ball, who went through practice with the team on Tuesday and is expected to play Thursday, was limited to 22 minutes in Sunday’s loss and went 0-of-4 from the field, lowering his shooting percentage on the season to 31.3, including 25 percent from 3-point range. Los Angeles is getting better production from another rookie, power forward Kyle Kuzma, who recorded a double-double in each of his last two contests.
ABOUT THE 76ERS (13-10): Philadelphia’s rookie point guard is having no trouble getting acclimated to the NBA and Ben Simmons fought off an illness to collect 20 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and six steals in Monday’s setback. The Australia native is shooting 50.3 percent from the floor while averaging 18 points, 9.3 rebounds, 7.1 assists and 2.3 steals. Simmons came up a rebound shy of a triple-double and added five steals in a 115-109 win at Los Angeles on Nov. 15 while Ball was held to two points on 1-of-9 shooting and two assists in 21 minutes.
1. 76ers PG T.J. McConnell (shoulder) sat out the last three games but is expected to be available on Thursday.
2. Los Angeles SF Brandon Ingram is averaging 19.8 points on 51.5 percent shooting during the five-game slide.
3. Philadelphia SF Robert Covington is shooting 29.4 percent from the floor over the last five games, including 12-of-47 from 3-point range.
PREDICTION: 76ers 116, Lakers 106